Tributes have been paid to family butcher Michael Newitt, who died suddenly last week while holidaying with friends in Antigua.
Michael died of a suspected heart attack and his body is currently awaiting repatriation to the UK.
The family man has been a prominent and much-loved member of the Thame community for decades.
Michael’s father worked within the antiques industry, however, aged in his 20s, the brave entrepreneur chose to step out from his father’s shadow and set up what was to become the award-winning family butchers, M Newitts and Sons.
Michael and his wife, Susan, have run the business since the 1960s, with the help of their son, Tom, in more recent years.
Tom said: “My mother and father started the business here 45 years ago and have played an active part of the community for many years.
“I joined the family business 25 years ago and have worked with my parents since then, both my father and I completed our apprenticeship with the same man years apart.”
The butcher, who supplied meat to Michelin star restaurants, put Thame on the map within the meat industry.
He was enjoying time at his second home in Antigua when he died on October 7, five days short of his 69th birthday.
The Newitt family all went out on his birthday and raised a glass in his memory.
Thame town councillor and close friend of the family, Beatrice Dobie, was in the same kindergarten as Michael over 60 years ago.
She said: “According to Michael, we shared a peg at school, but my earliest memory of him was when we were outside one summer. We were six at the time, and he came up to me and pinched my arm and said, ‘Not much flesh on that’, which now seems rather ironic considering he became a butcher.
“I’m guessing he had an inkling then that he knew what he wanted to be, and he fulfilled the role of the family butcher wonderfully. When you went to collect your Christmas order, he would always be giving something away while you waited, like hot sausage rolls - one year it was so cold he was handing out glasses of whisky.
“He told me once - that when he drove past my window, if he saw my candle arches in my window alight, it was a sign to him that I was alright; it was really nice to know that someone cared.”
The community man could always be seen at local events with his large cauldron of sausages ready for people to buy.
A generous man, he also contributed to a number of groups and associations behind the scenes, both financially or otherwise. He often donated to local charities, and through chairing the fundraising for the Thame Cottage Hospital, he helped to raise in excess of £300,000.
Beatrice added: “He was a cheerful and outgoing man, who was also very private and did a lot for Thame that I am sure we don’t know about. He will be remembered by everyone who knew him and missed by many.”
Tom finished: “Sadly it’s come to us as a huge shock, you obviously don’t expect this kind of thing to happen. He will be greatly missed by the community and family alike and I would like to thank the local community for their support during this difficult time. It is my intention to continue on the firm foundations that my father laid.”
Michael has left behind my wife Susan, his two children, Tom and James, and four grandchildren.
Tom added: “We are planning to give my father a good send off and it is my mother’s wish to invite friends, family, staff, suppliers and customers to the funeral at St Mary’s Church, Thame, once the necessary arrangements have been made.”
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