Fond farewell to Frank Flear OBE in the town his legacy lives on in

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 1 Apr 2019

Past and present greats of Grimsby’s seafood industry joined family, friends and representatives of the wider business community for a thanksgiving service for the life of Frank Flear OBE DL.

There was barely an empty seat in Grimsby Minister as mourners gathered to remember the pioneering entrepreneur, who passed away, aged 84, last month.

And the way the “true gentleman” encouraged others to thrive was heralded by The Rev Canon Andrew Dodd, who led the service.

Listened to intently by the likes of Wynne Griffiths CBE, Malcolm Eley, Pete Ward, Martyn Boyers and Danny Burton, he addressed wife Marion and family directly in a deeply personal service, during which a favoured poem – and perhaps source of inspiration – was read beautifully by granddaughter Katherine. From “our Frank’s” diary, having been steadfastly copied by him from year to year, came WML Jay’s Out of the Strain of Doing.

Rev Dodd said he had been “part of the life of the community and town for many years”. “In his life Frank was someone who made a place and a space for others,” he continued. “The legacy of Frank is woven into the town. Grimsby has been shaped by Frank’s hard work and commitment to forging space for others to flourish.

“His list of achievements is extensive; he will be remembered for his work in Ross Group, for starting Bluecrest and Seachill. His memory will be cherished for his work and civic service as High Sheriff of Humberside and Deputy Lieutenant of Lincolnshire.

“Charitable work was central to Frank’s life and I am always conscious of the great contribution Frank made to support and re-order this building we are now sitting in.”

Born as one of eight siblings in Lovett Street, Cleethorpes, he went to Brigg Grammar School and had ambitions to become a RAF fighter pilot, but a record of a bout of TB – which was news to him – scuppered those hopes. Instead, he flew through the ranks at Ross, becoming the youngest ever factory manager, before his entrepreneurial streak saw him start his own businesses, long after marrying a young woman from the same neighbourhood, a union of 62 years.

Daughter Penny Briggs, who gave the tribute between William Whiting’s Eternal Father, Strong to Save – due to its strong connotation to Grimsby and its “great fishing tradition” and Crimond’s The Lord’s My Shepherd, said: “I think it is fair to say he left his mark on Grimsby. He threw himself into public service with the same drive and gusto that he did business.

“We are so proud of the achievements of our Frank.”

She told how friendship was so important to him, and recalled Christmas parties spanning three nights to get all guests through the Kingsway Hotel’s doors, and told of lunches taken there with friends, and of early breakfasts at McDonald’s.

"He was a funny, generous man, who would talk to anyone and never stopped making friends. Friends were very important to him, especially in his retirement." 

Closing her tribute, Mrs Briggs told how in the many cards and messages the family had received since Mr Flear’s passing, what a gentleman he was and how he was always interested in other people came through most. “There is no finer tribute,” she concluded, before the choir sang Agnus Dei from the Requiem by Gabriel Faure, with the final hymn Ellerton’s The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, Is Ended. 

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