Melton shop boss who stood up to armed raiders gets 'family' farewell
A shopkeeper who twice stood up to armed raiders has said a sad farewell to the customers he calls his "big family".
Jitu Patel and wife Illa ran Supamac, in Grange Drive, Melton, for 25 years.
Hundreds of customers joined "Mr and Mrs P" for a farewell party at the shop on Sunday.
In September 2008, a robber pretended to buy two packets of crisps but, as Mr Patel opened the till, the man lunged at him, stabbing him twice before grabbing £670.
In May this year, Mr Patel grabbed a parcel containing a metal bar and bashed it against the floor to scare off would-be robbers who were pointing kitchen knives and demanding the contents of the till.
He was praised by police for his actions.
Mr Patel, 55, said: "Although they were scary at the time, the two robberies didn't make me too scared to go back to the shop.
"The memories I will leave with are of the happy times we had there."
He said many of the customers first came to the store as children and now had youngsters of their own.
Mr Patel said: "It was a big chunk of our lives, but everything has a limit.
"We got on so well with our customers and knew them all by their first names. We've had lots of cards and flowers which are all over the house."
Over the years, the couple have attended some customers' funerals and sent cards to those who were ill.
They have supported nearby Birch Wood special and Sherard primary schools.
In return, Mr Patel said: "People have always helped us when we needed it and we will never forget that.
"We will really miss all our customers and we would like to thank them all their support over the years, through the ups and downs.
"It's like we are leaving a big family behind and we will miss them like hell.
"It will be sad to go but we're looking forward to having a normal life. I haven't travelled for about 30 years, so I might as well see the world while my legs are still working."
Customer Sandra Rickell said:"They're a lovely couple, it's a shame they're going.
"They were on first-name terms with everyone.
"They will be sorely missed.
"He never took a holiday and worked all hours."
Lynne Hughes said: "There were crowds of people at their farewell party.
"I think it's a shame they're going. It's not going to be quite so personal.
"It's a big loss after all these years.
"Theirs was a typical corner shop of the kind that's dying out."
The shop's lease has been taken over by the national One Stop chain.