'His legacy will live on' - Tributes to 'inspirational' company founder

Touching tributes have been paid after the death of Ron Harrod, aged 89.

Touching tributes have been paid after the death of Ron Harrod, aged 89. Picture: Courtesy of the Harrod family - Credit: Courtesy of the Harrod family

Touching tributes have been paid to the founder of an internationally recognised company, who has been hailed as a "truly inspirational man."

Family and friends of Ron Harrod have honoured an "immensely respected" businessman, who was "loved by everyone."

Mr Harrod, at the Harrod Close road sign in Lowestoft.

Mr Harrod, at the Harrod Close road sign in Lowestoft. Picture: Harrod UK - Credit: Harrod UK

Keen Rotarian and founder of Harrod UK Ltd - the leading manufacturer in sports equipment - Mr Harrod, 89, died on December 29.

A much loved husband of 67 years to Margaret, father to Chris, Stephanie and Mark, Mr Harrod passed away at Grandora Care Lodge in Blundeston.

With a strong work ethic, Mr Harrod helped his mother on the family tea stall when he was 12 - and he never looked back.

After two years of national service in the RAF as a mechanic, it was back in 1954 that a 23-year-old Mr Harrod and his wife Margaret started the business Harrod of Lowestoft, which is now more commonly known as Harrod UK, Harrod Sport and Harrod Horticultural.

Back then - staff working on netting as Mr Harrod looks on.

Back then - staff working on netting as Mr Harrod looks on. Picture: Harrod UK Ltd - Credit: Harrod UK Ltd

After Mr Harrod started to convert old herring nets into garden netting, using skills traditionally associated with the town’s fishing industry, the family firm has gone on to employ several hundred people and be recognised as a market leader nationally and internationally.

Mr Harrod with staff at Harrod UK in 2009.

Mr Harrod with staff at Harrod UK in 2009. Picture: Harrod UK - Credit: Harrod UK

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Daughter Stephanie Harrod said: “My father was a wonderful, kind, generous, supportive man with an entrepreneurial spirit.

"We had a fantastic working relationship too and he gave us freedom to always try something new.

"When I put together ambitious plans for Harrod Horticultural back in 2002 he was extremely supportive.

"My father was very proud of our achievements and always gave us lots of praise and encouragement and would love to tell anyone who would listen too.

"He was a very principled man who had high standards and values, he genuinely believed his motto ‘the customer is king’ and he instilled these values in us, his legacy will live on through us and our amazing team.

“Above all he was my dad - kind, caring and always there for me.”

Son Chris Harrod added: “We managed to have such a good working relationship as well as a true bond as father and son which is quite rare.

"I will miss him dearly."

Mr Harrod with staff.

Mr Harrod with staff. Picture: Harrod UK - Credit: Harrod UK

Always encouraging his staff to "just have a go", Mr Harrod will be remembered for always being impeccably dressed with a smile that would light up any room.

Mr Harrod knew the names of everyone that worked for him, and took great interest in their families and welfare.

Mr Harrod with staff.

Mr Harrod with staff. Picture: Harrod UK - Credit: Harrod UK

Believing that his staff were the key to his success, Mr Harrod is fondly remembered for his weekly chocolate bar and ice cream treats, all delivered personally by him with a ‘thank you’ to all.

If staff were of the upmost importance to Mr Harrod, then it was the 'Customer that was King' - a statement that was at the forefront of everything the company would do.

Harrod UK is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.Ron Harrod in the 2000s

Ron Harrod in the 2000s. Picture: Harrod UK - Credit: Harrod UK

As a great ambassador of the company and Lowestoft, Mr Harrod was proud that his family run business was supplying the likes of Wembley Stadium, the Olympic Games and the Royal Horticultural Society.

With goalpost safety a passion for Mr Harrod, in 1989 he was instrumental as a founder member of the Comité de Européan Normalisation (CEN), holding the position of UK representative for sports posts for over 10 years.

Ron Harrod, of Harrod UK, (centre) at the Lowestoft and Waveney Chamber of Commerce 2013 Chamber Business Awards. Mr...

Ron Harrod, of Harrod UK, (centre) at the Lowestoft and Waveney Chamber of Commerce 2013 Chamber Business Awards. Mr Harrod was awarded a Recognition of Lifetime Achievement Award sponsored by Archant. Picture: Ferini Media - Credit: Ferini Media

Throughout his working life, the company won many awards with his ethos and legacy still as strong as ever today in keeping more than 130 people employed.

A highly active Rotarian, his fundraising raffles and bottle stalls at events "were legendary".

Another legacy that will live on is the Ron Harrod Foundation, a trust set up in 2018 with the aim of offering support to local budding young athletes to succeed in their chosen sports.

Harrod UK is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.Ron Harrod in the 1970s

Ron Harrod in the 1970s. Picture: Harrod UK - Credit: Harrod UK

A Harrod UK spokesman added: "Ron Harrod was a truly inspirational man that will be desperately missed but forever fondly remembered."

Mr Harrod leaves his wife Margaret, sons Chris and Mark, daughter Stephanie, six grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

A private family funeral will take place on a date yet to be set, with a cortege planned to head past Harrod UK’s offices and factory on the South Lowestoft industrial estate.

The family have asked for no flowers but are welcoming donations to EACH (East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices) via www.rosedalefuneralhome.co.uk

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