More than 500 people turned up to a party in Capel said a newsagent who celebrated his business’s 25th anniversary last Sunday.
Suryakant Patel, 75, of Capel and his family put on a lunchtime bash to thank his customers, who in turn travelled from as far as Dorset to attend and praised the ‘lovely’ family for their service to the community.
The owner of Capel Newsagents and head of the Patel family, said: “In this village we do a lot of charity work, we deliver goods to old people who cannot come out of their house at no extra charge.
“Every year we started a raffle with all the proceeds going to the local school.
“People have accepted us very nicely, they are always very helpful and lovely.
“If you’ve got a visitor and want wine, you can knock on my door and we will serve you - any sort of emergency.”
He gave particular thanks to his sons Mukesh and Kamlesh, who run the store during the day.
Mukesh Patel, 50, of Capel, said: “This party is for our local customers who supported us every step of the way.
“The shop today is what it is because of the customers, who have made it possible to run our business for 25 years.”
Muriel Dale, who turned 104 two Saturdays ago (Aug 3), made a special effort to attend in wheelchair with her daughter, who said her mother is a long-term customer and admirer of the Patels.
A long marquee sheltered the guests from the day’s sunny weather.
Within an hour of the party’s start time at midday, a queue had formed for the colourful and tasty Indian lunch, wine and punch being served till 3pm.
Chris Anderson, 54, a building inspector and life-long Capel resident, who used to play for Capel Cricket Club with Mukesh said: “The family are always willing to help - they go out of their way.
“It’s just strange to believe it’s 25 years it makes us all feel older.”
David Goodall, of Brook Green, retired, said: “He has done an awful lot for this village, a lot of fundraising for the school and other various organisations in the village.
“I’m here just to celebrate the 25 years and be able thank him.
“The whole family they really are terrific, just a lovely family.”
Jock and June Wylie, 73 and 66 respectively, of Capel, retired, said: “He’d just come in my house every Sunday morning to see me, he’s a lovely bloke.
“Nothing was too much for them and they are not afraid to work.
“They are a lovely family the whole lot, everybody in this village loves them.”
Mukesh added: “This is how it’s been for the last 25 years, we don’t treat customers like customers, we treat them like family, and it’s because of the customers that we’ve lasted 25 years.”