Tributes paid to much-loved and respected Aylesbury shopkeeper Mr Shah - the 'Elmhurst legend'

Mr Shah will be remembered as popular, hardworking man who had a friendly word and smile for everyone

By Olga Norford
Thursday, 17th February 2022, 4:54 pm
Updated Friday, 18th February 2022, 9:55 am

The family of a respected shopkeeper, known affectionally as the Elmhurst legend, have paid tribute to a much-loved family man and stalwart of the local community.

Mr Ratilal Shah, who ran the Londis shop - formerly Spar - in Dunsham Lane, Aylesbury, for nearly 50 years, died suddenly on February 10, following a short illness. His funeral will be held at the Golders Green Crematorium in London tomorrow (18/2).

His passing has prompted an outpouring of condolence from family, friends and customers who will remember Mr Shah as a popular, hardworking man who had a friendly word and smile for everyone.

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Mr and Mrs Shah

Many have referred to him as both a gentleman and a gentle man with more than 200 people taking to social media to comment and pay their respects on the Aylesbury Grapevine Facebook site.

His son Bijal said: "It is such a sad loss but the family have been overwhelmed by all the cards and flowers and people wanting to pay their respects.

"A posting on a local Facebook page has had more 237 comments and more than 500 likes. One 10-year-old boy even stopped my brother to say: 'I'm really sorry to hear Mr Shah is no longer with us. Can I do anything to help?'

Mark Tubb said: "RIP mr Shah. Always polite and friendly. A loss to our community as well as his family. Condolences to his family."

Mr Shah in his younger years

And Elizabeth Scally posted: "I worked with the Shah family for five years and this is the saddest day ever. Mr Shah will be missed so much, he's been an amazing person to everyone and a big part of my extended family, and so has the whole Shah family. I've enjoyed the last five years working with him and I'm going to miss him every day. Fly with the angels Mr Shah you're at peace now."

Bijal added: "That's his legacy, He touched everyone in the community, both young and old.

"He loved people. He loved talking to his customers and the shop was his life, his business and a hobby. He would spend every day serving behind the counter at the shop. Nothing was too much trouble, he was always there for his customers. Mr Shah's shop never closed."

Mr Shah, who was 88, was born in Kenya and came to England in 1973, living in London before looking round for a business and after six months settling in Aylesbury where he started a grocery shop business.

Mr Shah had 'a smile for everyone'

He manned the shop with his wife Ramaben, who is now 85 - a devoted couple and team who were affectionately known as just Mr and Mrs Shah. The couple, who lived above the shop, have two sons, Raj, who went on to join the business and run the shop with his parents, and Bijal who is an accountant and lives in London.

The Shahs served generations of the local community, many of whom the couple considered as friends. As times changed and competition grew from the big supermarkets Mr Shah took the challenges head-on building a successful business that expanded to offer post office services and everything you'd want or need from your local 'corner' shop, from newspapers and stationery to fruit and veg, stamps and confectionery.

As Bijal explained: "It was hard work but my parents managed to carry on despite the competition. They were always right here for their customers.

"They worked hard, spending all their working life running the shop. They lived for family, their friends and the business.

Mr and Mrs Shah enjoy an ice cream together during some rare time off

"My father was a lovely, kind, and caring man. And very humble. He always had a good word for everyone and never raised his voice. He had a warm heart and though he dedicated his life to serving the community he was also a committed family man who idolised his two granddaughters and would spend hours playing Connect 4 with them.

"He will be greatly missed but he would be proud and happy of his legacy and to have been remembered as a local legend."

Mr Shah in his shop which was formerly Spar, now Londis
Mr and Mrs Shah
Mr Shah with one of his grandchildren
Mr and Mrs Shah on a trip to DisneyLand Paris