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Obituary: Barry the Coventry chippy; A cheeky prank, which even made it into the Coventry Evening Telegraph, made him the talk of the town in 1968.

Byline: Fionnula Hainey

Friends and family are celebrating the life of a much-loved Coventry chippy, who has died aged 82.

Barry Williams was a well-known character, born and raised in Coventry, who touched the hearts of many during his time as a carpenter.

His son Richard says there's "probably not a road inCoventryorWarwickshirewhere he hasn't done a job".

As well as working on the brand new University of Warwick in the 1960s and the Careys Club when it first opened, Barry had previously worked as an engineer for Standard and Jaguar, and was in the RAF.

A cheeky prank, which even made it into the Coventry Evening Telegraph, made him the talk of the town in 1968.

His son Richard Williams, a breakfast reporter for BBC Coventry and Warwickshire, spoke toCoventryLiveabout his dad's time growing up in Coventry and the memories he will treasure.

Barry was raised in the Bell Green area of Coventry during World War Two.

Some of his earliest memories include standing on the doorstep of his Henley Road home and looking out at the red sky as bombs dropped.

Years later, Barry and Richard delved into their family history for aBBC piece on the anniversaryof the Blitz in 2015 and discovered that Barry's grandmother had her home completely destroyed.

Richard says his dad's love of planes likely stemmed from those moments, as young Barry could detect German planes from allied ones just from their sound in the air.

Watch: History of the 'Coventry Blitz'

History of the 'Coventry Blitz'

Barry attended Keresley Colliery Primary School and was the head boy of his secondary school.

He left school at 14 and started an apprenticeship in carpentry at Garlicks in Coventry - but the pull of seeing the world was too much and Barry signed up to the RAF at the age of 18.

Coventry Blitz: Then and Now

Coventry Blitz then and now: How the city has changed since 1940

Barry spent the next five years seeing the world as a mechanic with the RAF, visiting Aden, Egypt and Somalia.

He excelled in his role and was even enlisted to conduct missions with the SAS.

But during a period of leave back in Coventry, Barry met Richard's mum Eileen and his world changed again.

Eileen was also well-known in Coventry as the owner of two high street clothes shops including one on Gosford Street.

The pair had their first dance at Coventry's Majestic Ballroom and, in 1960, Barry left the RAF and moved back to his beloved city.

Back in Coventry, as a mechanic Barry was able to get straight back into work, firstly at the Standard Motor Company and later atJaguar,where he was one of the first to work on the new E-type.

But eventually Barry started his own business in carpentry, which his family say was where his true talent lied.

The Standard Motor Company: The rise and fall of a Coventry car giant

Richard said: "Dad had a real gift for carpentry and woodwork, it was not a trade or skill - he really had a gift when it came to making things from wood."

Atlantic Joinery - a name chosen by Barry to get it to the top of the phonebook - was born with its workshop based inLongford.

Spending his years working on jobs across Coventry and Warwickshire, Barry was well-liked by the community - and always had a funny story to tell.

One of Richard's favourite stories was one that ended up appearing in the pages of the Coventry Evening Telegraph.

With the headline 'Barry the chippy gets an abstract laugh', the article, from June 1968, explains how he mesmerised the locals with an intriguing piece of artwork in the window of an old gallery.

Barry was working to transform an old gallery inLeamingtoninto an estate agents - but amused by the numbers of people still peering in through the windows, despite all the artwork being removed, Barry gave them something to look at by knocking up his own work.

"He has bathered up a few nails, some odd pieces of scrap metal and feathers, and arranged them in an old picture frame," The Telegraph reports.

Barry commented: "I have no artistic inclination but I thought it would be a laugh."

According to Richard, the unusual display got quite a reaction from the public with around 40 people gathering outside the building to take a look by the evening - and it caused such a stir that Barry was eventually asked to take it down.

"It sums my dad up really," Richard said.

Barry's other cheeky workplace pranks included sending his new recruit out to the shop to ask for a 'long weight'.

Paying tribute to his dad, Richard said: "Dad had real passions in his life - sport, fishing and cricket, Coventry City Football Club and local history to name a few.

"There probably isn't a week that goes by where I don't mention him on the radio and share a story of him or some nugget he has shared with me.

"He was a man's man, who operated himself with complete dignity.

"He worried about others first, before himself. He always had a plan in life. He is someone who I will miss terribly and who has made me who I am today. He was my best mate."

The funeral of Barry Williams will be held at St Joseph the Worker, Cannon Park at 11am on Thursday, March 7.

The family have asked for donations to be made to the Willoughby Ward at Warwick Hospital, where Barry spent his final days.

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Barry Williams while serving in the RAF - photo taken in Aden, 1956

Wedding of Barry and Eileen Williams - Barry's parents (Phyllis and Jack Williams) who were a well-known musical duo in Coventry are to his left

Cutting from the June 29 edition of the Coventry Evening Telegraph in 1968

Richard and his dad Barry at the Coventry Telegraph Family Race Day at Stratford Racecourse
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Publication:Coventry Telegraph (Coventry, England)
Date:Mar 7, 2019
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