TRIBUTE to the “Mr Toy Shop” in Knutsford for making the dreams of thousands of children come true.
Always smiling and cheerful, Ken Andrew has served generations of families at Hal Whittaker’s Toy Shop in Princess Street.
The much-loved shopkeeper has been hailed as “a true ambassador for the city” by customers who reminisce about their treasured childhood memories.
Many remember buying Tri-ang and Hornby trains, Legos and their first teddy bear from his wooden counter.
The 96-year-old died on July 21, two days before sharing his 62nd wedding anniversary with his beloved wife Marjorie.
“We have lost a great man,” said his daughter Julie Furness.
“The toy store was really his baby and his passion.
READ > Knutsford wine merchant Morgan Edwards moves to bigger premises
“He loved amateur theatre, the shop became an extension of a stage.
“He would put on puppet shows for the kids and get their attention.”
Knutsford-born Ken was a successful salesman when he bought the former Princess Street photography shop in 1969.
The pioneering entrepreneur introduced fireworks and started a Christmas club.
“It was quite innovative,” Julie said. “Families could set aside money each week to spend on the children at Christmas.
“He used to go to toy fairs in London, Harrogate and Brighton.
“He was very good at spotting the next big thing. We were popular at school because we always had the latest toy craze as our experience.
Son Stuart, who took over the family business in the early 1980s, said it was hard for his father to let go.
“He wanted to be in the store all day,” Stuart said.
“He knew all the customers personally.
“I try to make sure everything he did still stands. His old-fashioned core values were instilled in all of us.
“He was selfless in every sense of the word.
“Every child should have the memory of a toy store rather than the faceless world of going online.”
Eldest son Mark described how his father rose through the ranks, completing national service with the South Lancashire Regiment.
“He served in India and Burma, came back to Sandhurst and became a captain, then went back to Palestine and was in charge of the army in Jerusalem.”
Ken’s family has been overwhelmed with the fond memories shared by the local community.
Julie said: “Everyone describes him as a warm, kind and generous man.
“He had a fabulous sense of humor, a family man who was proud of all of us.”
He was an avid photographer and member of Knutsford Golf Club and has two grandchildren, Olivia, 21, and Josh, 18.
Ken’s funeral will be on Monday, August 1 at 10:30 a.m. at Birches Crematorium.