Tributes paid to well-loved Romford market fruit-seller
- Credit: Jay Cunningham- Pierce
A Romford fruit seller of 70 years has died aged 94.
John Edward Thomas Port, known as Jacko, owned a fruit stall at Romford Market since the 1970s.
Grandson Jay Cunningham-Pearce described his grandfather as a "wind-up merchant", saying he would joke around with children and his customers.
He said: “He was quite the character, the kind of which Romford and its market will never see again.
“Everyone knew him, and the market was his whole life.
“He always had a lovely stall, very well presented.”
Jacko, who passed away from Alzheimer's, only retired a few years ago and loved his work selling fruit.
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“The Port and Pearce families have been one of those families on the market forever,” Jay explained.
“We’re a proper market family, and are well-known within the community.”
Jack's dog Babe was also famous within the market, and Jay said she never left his granddad’s side and would ride on his shoulder in the lorry.
Born on December 30, 1926, as a young boy Jacko would help his father trade horses at what used to be the Romford cattle market.
He was one of seven brothers and two sisters, all of whom were born and raised in Romford.
Many of Jacko’s siblings - Gelgie, Sylvia, Charlie, Kenny, Tony, George, Jerry and David - went on to own their own stalls and his son Steven ran a neighbouring vegetable stall.
Eunice Port, Jacko’s long-term partner, also owned her own burger stall underneath a large Eun ‘n’ Jack banner, and the couple’s grandchildren would help out after school and during the holidays.
Their daughter Lynette Grimwood recalled her father’s good nature.
She explained: “He was just a real gentleman, never horrible to anyone.
“Everyone loved him.”
Jacko met Eunice when she already had six young children, and brought them up as his own.
“His life revolved around work and my mum, he was infatuated by her,” Lynette added.
“At the end, even when he was in a lot of pain, he was still worrying about her.”
The family man had 22 grandchildren, 25 great grandchildren and six great great grandchildren.
Jacko’s funeral, planned to take place on July 6, is expected to “bring the market to a standstill”.
“Everyone knew him, and there’s going to be seven limos, horses and carriages going through the square to St Edward the Confessor Church”, Lynette added.