I am sure that most members are aware that Bruce Bannerman, owner of The Gourmet Delicatessen, sadly died on 1st March, aged 84.
Below is a lovely article about Bruce, written by his friend Andrew Clarke of Louis Potts & Co.
Bruce learned his trade as a caterer at the Savoy in London and had a long and successful career in the catering industry, first as the owner of the Old Ferry Inn in Fowey, Cornwall and later as a specialist catering importer in Trinidad, before giving in to the lure of being his own boss. In 1962 he began searching the country for a suitable site for a high class delicatessen and caterer - his own Harrods Food Hall.
His search ended in Lewes, where he had the foresight to see the town’s potential when it was at its lowest point, opening in the High Street in June 1963, at a time when many old established shops were closing.
Bruce, and his wife Jean, were pioneers of modern Lewes, expanding steadily over the years to build the hugely successful and fondly remembered Gourmet shop and outside catering. Bruce often commented that he saw the town hatched, matched and dispatched as he catered for many of Lewes society’s christenings, weddings and funerals. It is hard to believe that it is 20 years since the Gourmet closed. We all remember his fantastic hanging baskets, invariably illuminated by the lights from his kitchen, as he and Jean regularly worked six days a week from 5.00am to 7.00pm.
In spite of his prolific workload, from the time he opened his first shop, Bruce was an enthusiastic and active member of the Chamber and never ever missed a Chamber of Commerce meeting. He was always a steady source of advice, forever volunteering for the hard sub-committee work that achieves results without necessarily reflecting public glory, and he was one of the original Christmas Late Night Shopping team.
Less well known is Bruce's unstinting effort, often through the Chamber, in encouraging new business in Lewes. He was a tremendous encouragement to us when we first opened Louis Potts on School Hill in 1976 (he was our first landlord) and it was Bruce who, when we outgrew 206 High Street, tipped us off about the potential availability of a bigger shop at 14 High Street in 1979. In 1989, Bruce was instrumental in introducing us to the developer of our present shop in Cliffe High Street - he has been a fantastic friend and mentor to us over the years, and I can name a good many other shopkeepers and restaurateurs who have similarly benefited from Bruce's advice and support, both personally and through the Chamber.
With regard to Bruce, it is enough to say that he was a great and kind man, and he will be fondly remembered by all of the Lewes business community.