Tributes to Binton and Broadway's Jim Smith, a former market trader at Birmingham's famous Bull Ring - The Stratford Observer

Tributes to Binton and Broadway's Jim Smith, a former market trader at Birmingham's famous Bull Ring

Stratford Editorial 4th Jun, 2024   0

FAMILY tributes have been paid to the colourful and charismatic former Birmingham market trader James (Jim) Michael Smith from Binton who died on April 24 aged 87.

Jim ran a successful market stall and shop in the Bull Ring selling apparel during the 1970s and ‘80s. He was born on 18 December 1936 in London’s East End and arrived in Birmingham in the 1960s with former wife Deb to make a new start.

He began working for Harry Morell at the Rainbow Casino before settiTribng up his own nightclub, The Fly de Les. They had two children, Elsa and Little Jim.

Born into poverty to Elsie and Walter, the youngest of four boys, Jim attended a convent school but left with only basic reading and writing skills. He was good at sports, particularly football, and played for several local sides including London Schoolboys.

At age 17 an army medical would reveal Jim had tuberculosis. This put paid to his sporting ambitions and he was immediately admitted to hospital. He remembered family members visiting to say their goodbyes.

Fortunately for Jim he received pioneering surgery to remove most of his lung by eminent thoracic surgeon Geoffrey Flavell. He still needed four years at Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford to recuperate.

Jim revisited the hospital in 2022 and could remember the balcony where he spent out in all weathers. He cried tears pointing out where his mum used to stand and wave on her fortnightly visits as she waited for its doors to open.

After parting from Deb in the early 90s, Jim settled in Binton, where he took pleasure in spending time with grandchildren Alex and Frances. Semi-retired and then retired, golf featured heavily. Frequent trips to Scotland and Cornwall were also enjoyed.

His great loves were Tottenham Hotspur, watching snooker and boxing. He also had a fondness for sandwiches, cheese and onion crisps, Chas and Dave, Costa flat whites, the BBC TV programme Only Fools and Horses.

In later years Jim found joy and new friendships with Sporting Memories, a Stratford-based group of older people, dementia sufferers and their families who meet weekly for sports quizzes and activities.

He spent his final years at Brompton House Care Home, Broadway, where on better days was said to demand a car, a passport and some cash. He made deals with the female carers, only agreeing to take his tablets in exchange for a kiss.

The family are very grateful for the kindness, care and dignity afforded to him by staff as he faded away.

His daughter Elsa Ford said “Enduring friendship was a hallmark stamped throughout his life.

“He understood people, he felt them deeply. It made him funny and generous and thoughtful. He was a brilliant dad and I will miss him.”

His life was commemorated by a funeral mass held at Olton Friary, Solihull on May 22.

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