Belfast Telegraph

'A man of vision, guts and tenacity'... son's tribute to food entrepreneur Norman Lynas

Norman Lynas with his wife Lynda
Norman Lynas with his wife Lynda
Leona O'Neill

By Leona O'Neill

Tributes have been paid to prominent businessman Norman Lynas after his death following a short illness.

The 77-year-old Coleraine man, who was founder of the Lynas Foodservice company, had suffered a suspected stroke in August, spending several weeks in an intensive care unit.

He was diagnosed in September with an advanced and inoperable brain tumour.

The devout Christian, whose business cards read 'Husband, father, grandfather and follower of Jesus', employed 540 staff in food distribution after building his company from its beginnings as a modest fish shop owned by his father in Coleraine.

He grew the business from fresh fish to selling a wide range of frozen food in the early 1970s.

That decision placed Mr Lynas at the forefront of the frozen food revolution across Northern Ireland at the time and saw the business grow steadily, even in difficult times.

In 1991 Mr Lynas moved the business to Loughanhill Industrial Estate in Coleraine, where it still has a base today.

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Speaking yesterday his son Andrew, who took over the firm from his father, said he was his hero and that his "was a life well lived".

"Dad was a man of vision, guts and tenacity," he said.

"Taking over a small fish shop in Coleraine nearly 60 years ago and transforming it into the largest family-owned and run foodservice business in Ireland and Scotland with over 560 staff delivering over 10m cases of food a year to the catering trade.

Norman with son Andrew
Norman with son Andrew

"Dad was a salesperson at heart, he loved getting that extra box into the call.

"He loved his customers, enjoying calling on them for a cup of tea or seeing them at the different food shows and ensuring that their business was thriving.

"From schools, hospitals, chip shops to coffee shops, he loved 'serving the caterer'.

"Dad loved Coleraine and the local community, involved in the Enterprise Agency and setting up a local Dragons' Den in the teeth of the 2008 recession.

"He was a man who loved people and interacting with them; even at the end of his life he wanted to be around people. In 2017 he received an OBE for services to the business community and young people."

Andrew said that as much as his father loved his business, his "first love was Jesus".

He said his dad was a committed Christian, member and elder of Portstewart Baptist Church, transforming lives as he mentored many young people. He and his wife Lynda set up Exodus in 1997, a charity helping young people to become lifelong disciple-makers.

Almost 10,000 young people have been through the programmes, travelling to some 35 countries since the start. Norman and Lynda regularly travelled to visit teams in Romania and a variety of other locations on charity missions.

"Dad, with mum at his side for over 47 years, lived life to the full," said Andrew. "He loved his three boys and seven grandchildren yet he was a spiritual father to many others and has left a lasting legacy well beyond just the business. Here's to a life well lived and to my hero."

Another son, Peter, director of the Evangelical Alliance, said of his father: "Dad leaves a living legacy in the many lives he touched and the impact he had for Jesus and the Kingdom."

Mr Lynas is survived by his wife Lynda, his sons Peter, David and Andrew and their wives, his seven grandchildren, and his sisters Maureen and Christine.

A service of thanksgiving for his life will take place on Wednesday at 1pm at Portstewart Baptist church.

The family has asked that any donations in lieu of flowers are made to Exodus, 29 Railway Street, Lisburn.

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