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Carousel finally stops for Flora; LIFE: Tributes paid after Coventry Market's merry-go-round's former owner dies, aged 97.

Byline: Cara Simpson

THE owner of a merry-goround, which brought joy to thousands of city children, has died aged 97. Flora Statham (ne Stokes) spent a lifetime entertaining children at Coventry Market in the city centre.

Shoppers trusted Flora and her late husband Jack, called "Uncle Jack" by their young customers, with their children as they browsed items at surrounding market stalls.

The fame of the market roundabout was brought home to Flora when she was on holiday in New York.

She was eating dinner at a Manhattan restaurant when someone approached her and declared 'are you the lady from the Coventry Market Roundabout?'.

When Jack died in 1984, she ran the roundabout single-handedly until ill-health forced her to leave her beloved merry-go-round when she was well into her 70s. Flora died after a fall at a care home in Solihull on September 21.

Flora was born the daughter of a travelling showman and was one of nine siblings.

After she married Jack, the pair lived in a single-decker bus which was parked alongside the roundabout when it operated in the area now part of the Upper Precinct in 1948.

Their merry-go-round was believed to be one of the first city centre roundabouts in the country.

The couple eventually moved their merry-go-round to the old Rex outdoor market.

It was relocated to a site just outside the current market in 1958.

History was made for Flora and Jack when their roundabout became the first one ever officially opened by Royalty, Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra, on November 4.

Flora died after a fall at a care home in Solihull on September 21. Her nephew Anthony Stokes, now runs the roundabout, now inside Coventry Market, with his daughter Rachael. He paid tribute to his aunt, saying: "Flora loved kids, and she loved the roundabout.

"In those days people used to leave their kids on the ride whilst they went and did their shopping. They knew they would be safe and looked after with Flora and Jack. We're pleased she died knowing it was still in the family," he added.

"She would have lived to 100, she was ever such a strong person.

"Flora was the sort of person who could have an argument in an empty room, but you knew where you were with her. "She was outspoken."

CAPTION(S):

FUN... Flora Statham (left), former owner of the merry-go-round in Coventry Indoor Market has passed away. Nephew Anthony Stokes and his daughter Rachael (above) by the roundabout. Main picture: Joe Bailey
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 3, 2009
Words:420
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