Friends and family were the key to happiness for Ian – Tributes paid to ‘gentle giant’ locksmith after 40 years as Stevenage indoor market trader

Ian Wood at the dogs track

Ian Wood at the dogs track - Credit: Archant

One of Stevenage Indoor Market’s most well known characters has passed away after battling cancer.

At his second home - the Stevenage Indoor Market

At his second home - the Stevenage Indoor Market - Credit: Archant

Ian Wood operated the key cutting stall at the market in St George’s Way for some 40 years until he retired in 2014 and moved to Eastbourne to be by the sea with his daughter Tracey Gibson. He died last Tuesday at the age of 74.

Paying tribute to her father, Tracey said: “My dad was full of banter and everyone liked him.

“He was a gentle giant with a heart of gold. He was a man that never moaned or made a fuss, even when he was diagnosed with lung cancer a few years back, he just got on with life.

“He came to live with me down here in Eastbourne where he happily lived, watching the world go by from his window. He had polio at the age of five and has never been able to walk far, so he got an electric scooter and was able to go down the seafront and around the pier and shops.”

Ian Wood marking his retirement at the Indoor Market

Ian Wood marking his retirement at the Indoor Market - Credit: Archant

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Ian was born in Edgware, London, in April 1942. He left school at the age of 15 and went to work for Redifusion before moving to Stevenage in 1962.

In 1974 he decided to become self-employed and opened a shop in Stevenage Old Town, with his friend Terry Vooght repairing and selling televisions.

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In 1975 he heard through his friend Alan Gilbert that a unit had become available in Stevenage Indoor Market for a key cutter and it soon became his.

His friend and fellow trader Tony Tagg said: “He spent the next couple of years building an extensive stock of locks and keys and went on to gain his Master Locksmiths qualifications of which he was very proud.

On his scooter in Eastbourne

On his scooter in Eastbourne - Credit: Archant

“His proudest moment was being asked to open the safe at Lloyds Bank in Stevenage after the staff lost their keys.

“Ian made many friends with the stallholders during almost 40 years service, spending many Friday nights over at Henlow dog track, enjoying his favourite sport of greyhound racing. This gave him so much pleasure that he purchased his own greyhounds. Nothing excited him more than to see his dog romp home the winner.”

The funeral will be held at 3pm on Tuesday, June 21, at Eastern Hall, 143 Seaside, Eastbourne, BN22 7NN.

Donations can be made to the Retired Greyhound Trust.

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