Family and friends are mourning the loss of a Melton man who had a varied working life as a local police officer, driving instructor and holiday tour coach driver and who played a big part in the town’s sporting community.
Graham Digby passed away at Melton’s St Mary’s Hospital on Thursday after an extended period of illness - he was due to turn 79 this week.
He was married for nearly 57 years to Hazel, who told the Melton Times: “Graham was in hospital for five weeks so it was a difficult Christmas and New Year for us.
“We’ve had lots of cards since he passed away and people have sent their sympathies to us.”
Graham was born in Melton and grew up in Elmhurst Avenue - his father died in Burma during the Second World War and his mother remarried.
He attended Brownlow School and worked in his mum’s Welby Lane convenience store, called Everley’s.
After leaving school aged 15, Graham trained as a mechanic at Ladbury’s before joining the police force, patrolling in the Melton area for 12 years.
He married Hazel at the town’s St Mary’s Church on January 19, 1963, during one of the UK’s coldest winters on record.
Hazel recalled: “The snow was piled high outside St Mary’s so they had to dig a path out for us.
“I’ve never clung so tightly to my dad as I did when we went into church.
“It was very cold but luckily we didn’t have far to go to the reception at the Anne of Cleves.”
Explaining how they met, she added: “I used to go up to the old Everley’s store on Welby Lane and Graham would often be kicking a ball about with his friends in the area between Morley Close and Welby Lane, where The Cove is now. I met him there and we just got talking.”
Graham became a driving instructor after leaving the police and ran Needham School of Motoring for 25 years, giving lessons to generations of town residents.
Then came a move into another career as a coach driver for holiday tours - he worked for a number of companies, travelling across Europe.
Hazel said: “I never used to see him for weeks on end.
“On some of the long trips I used to get a phone call to say Fairtax were bringing his dirty clothes back and asking if I could pack another case to send out to him.”
He was a coach driver until six years ago when his diabetes meant he was no longer allowed to make commercial driving trips.
Graham leaves two sons, who both live in Melton - Alan (52) and 49-year-old Craig, who is married to Jenny, and grandchildren, Hannah (19) and Harry (17).
Sport was one of his biggest passions, playing cricket and football in his younger years and refereeing local football and high level non-league matches for many years.
He became secretary of the Melton Charity Cup in the mid-1970s before handing over the reins to son, Alan, 15 years ago.
Graham, who was a keen Leicester City FC supporter, also served on the committee for the Melton and Rutland Football League and the local referees’ association.
Alan said: “Dad was always keen to get involved in local football because he wanted to give something back.
“I’m sure a lot of his old friends will be coming to the funeral as well as his many other friends.”
A funeral service will be held for Graham at Loughborough Crematorium at 11.45am on February 6.
Family flowers only are requested, with any donations to be made to the Dalgliesh Ward at St Mary’s Hospital, Melton.