His trumpet playing was legendary, and his shop has delighted children for decades.
Today a tribute was paid to Guisborough musician and store owner Gene Jarred after his death at the age of 87.
Before the toy section closed in 2014, Stokelds Toy Center, Nursery and Stationery had been trading on Fountain Street in Guisborough since 1982.
And at the heart of it all was owner Gene Jarred – the friendly face who loved helping customers choose the best toys.
In 2011, Gene told The Gazette, “I think working with toys keeps me young, of course. I play with everything in the store to see what it is.
But if toys and stationery were her business, music was her true love.
Gene, who died on May 15, was born in Dormanstown in 1931 and, leaving school at age 13, became an apprentice carpenter.
At 16, he was visiting the Coatham Hotel in Redcar to listen to the Charles Amer Band, where he marveled at the trumpeters, took lessons from them and eventually found himself invited to travel on the group’s bus.
At 19 he bought his first trumpet, hire-purchase and priced at £ 12, and after two years of endless practice he joined the RAF as a regular member for the compulsory three years – which he allowed entry into the RAF group.
After leaving the RAF, Gene worked nights as a pit musician at the Empire Theater, Middlesbrough, accompanying all manner of variety acts, and he was soon “in demand” from other groups, including the Charles Amer Band and the Danny Mitchell Band at the Pier Ballroom Redcar.
Having turned professional, he joined the Orchester Les Douglass, playing the summer season at Bridlington Spa and accompanying artists such as Morecambe & Wise and Jimmy Tarbuck. A residency in a London hotel led him to work in Germany, then in Naples at the famous Flamingo Club on the NATO base where the US 6th Fleet was stationed.
In 1966, after another tour of England, Gene returned to Teesside and worked at Block and Anderson, selling copy and duplicating machines. But he soon got a call from Charles Amer who was looking for a band to perform at his brand new Marton Hotel & Country Club.
For the next 10 years, Gene’s band resided there – and he remembered playing 31 consecutive nights.
In 1972, with the support of his wife Lily and following Block and Anderson’s dismissal, Gene started his own office supplies and equipment sales business, which continues to operate in Bright Street, Middlesbrough.
Further business acquisitions saw Gene’s music career suspended in 1976 to focus on what would be four retail stores and one commercial enterprise.
In 1996, Gene left the day-to-day running of the business to his daughters Jackie and Joanne and eventually returned to the game.
He then led the New Horizons Band for six years which, in addition to performing for parties and weddings, went to elementary schools, encouraging children to hear the sound of music live on instruments that many don’t. had never seen before.
Gene’s last performance was at the Saltburn Bandstand last summer, leading the Guisborough Big Band.
Daughter Jackie said: “Gene took great pleasure in having a business in Guisborough. He has always been grateful for the loyalty of the people of Guisborough and the surrounding area in supporting his business, whether it be stationery, art supplies and, of course, toys and baby items.
The Fountain Street Stationers store – formerly Stokelds – will be closed all day of the funeral.
Gene leaves behind a wife Lily, daughters Jackie and Joanne, grandchildren Lucy, Thomas, Kayt and Charlotte, and great grandchildren Rory and Isabelle.
Her funeral will be on Friday, May 31 at 11:30 a.m. at Saltburn Emmanuel Church, with donations at the location if desired to the South Cleveland Heart Fund.
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