Tributes have been paid to an Andover shopkeeper who worked for more than seven decades in the heart of town.

Alec Holloway was the proprietor of Squires' at 19 Bridge Street, where he worked from 1947 until his retirement in 2018. His daughter, Felicity, told the Advertiser that the “lived to see his customers”, to whom he sold all manner of electrical products.

Following a spell in hospital, Alec was in palliative care at the Countess of Brecknock Hospice, where he sadly passed away on February 12 at the age of 95.

Alec Hubert Holloway was born on May 14 1925 in Parkstone, a district of Poole. Shortly after his birth, the family relocated to rural Berkshire, where his father, a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, treated horses, while his mother worked as a nurse, having been trained at the Florence Nightingale Training School for Nurses.

Spending his youth in the Berkshire countryside, he developed a passion for flight, and joined the air cadets as a teenager.

“He was very keen on radios and loved messing around with them,” said Felicity, “so in 1942, at the age of 17, he put his age up and joined the RAF in Bomber Command.”

In World War Two, Bomber Command was the organisation which sent bombing raids against Nazi Germany. Its role on the front line saw it suffer an extremely high casualty rate, with 44.4 per cent of aircrew serving with it being killed in action, while more were injured or taken as prisoners of war.

Alec was lodged at Harrogate at No.7 Personnel Reception Centre, where the Ministry of Defence took over several hotels in the spa town to use as barracks for airmen. From here, he flew on missions in across Europe and further afield, including being a part of the bombing of Dresden.

Despite the high casualty rate of those on bombers, he was only shot down once – and not by enemy forces. In an incident of friendly fire, he was shot down by an American fighter, ditching his plane in the Mediterranean. This did damage to his knees, which would trouble him for the rest of his life.

“He ended up in hospital in Tel Aviv,” said Felicity. “It was quite harrowing really; he didn’t talk a lot about it.”

Despite this setback, he recovered, and continued to enjoy flying, where he flew planes including the Wellington, Lancaster and Dakota. He flew the last model of the latter out of RAF Netheravon, which Felicity said he was “very pleased by”.

In 1945, he became engaged to his wife, Fenella, but continuing to service in the RAF, their marriage wouldn’t come until three years later. In the final years of his service, he flew diplomatic missions, codenamed ‘Magic, where he delivered diplomats and diplomatic cargo around the world.

In 1946, having left the RAF, he joined the team working at P. Squire Ltd, owned by his wife’s parents. The business had been set up in 1893, and in the early days sold everything from motorbikes to toys.

Though he would subsequently go on to work for 71 years at the firm, it wasn’t meant to be that way.

“It was meant to be a temporary thing,” said Felicity. “He wanted to get back to flying, and join an airline like BOAC or rejoin the RAF.”

However, he soon discovered that he had a talent for shop work, and enjoyed meeting with customers. As a result, he would stay at the business for decades.

“He lived to see his customers,” said Felicity. “He loved his job for 70 years”.

In 1959, Alec took over the shop from his father-in-law, and his passion for radio and engineering came through. He had previously become an associate of The British Institute of Professional Radio Engineers (now part of the Institution of Engineering and Technology) and the Society of Television and Radio Engineers (now the Society of Broadcast Engineers), and so sold items such as radios, televisions and other electricals.

As a staple figure of the High Street, Alex also became involved in town life, joining the Round Table and subsequently the 41 club, as well as the Rotary Club. John Barlow, a rotarian, said that Alec had been a “prominent member of the Rotary club for getting on for 60 years,” and was “a much-loved and much-respected local businessman.”

This period also saw him as a loving father to his daughter Felicity, who said he was “a lovely dad”.

“I remember he used to help me with my maths homework,” she said, “and he did it in a different way to how I’d been taught which made him laugh.

“Somebody told me the other day that he was a very kind gentleman, and that they would have loved to have him as a father.”

For decades, Alec continued to work in the shop, with Felicity saying that he never went on holiday, and would only take time off to go to the hospital.

By 2018, he was deserving of a rest, and coupled with pain in his legs, he decided to retire from the business, which then closed.

At the time, Alec told the Advertiser: “I will miss here, my whole life’s here.

“I lost my wife a couple of months ago and I’m in my 90s so I think it is time I gave up.

“We have had people in tears yesterday. There is nothing else like it about anywhere.”

He paid tribute to his customers, saying: “I just want to thank them in the past. It will certainly be a change of life”.

Alec with other winners and sponsors of the Pride of Andover 2018

Alec with other winners and sponsors of the Pride of Andover 2018

Later that year, he was given special recognition in the Pride of Andover Awards for his service to the high street, having had an “outstanding” impact on the community.

After receiving his award, Alec said: "It has been a long time but it has been a lot of fun. It is a full-time job, I had very good staff and made some great friends, made no enemies that I know of."

He spent his final years at his home in Little Ann, where he tended his one-acre garden. Sadly, the problems he had with his legs began to catch up with him.

“The year after he retired, he had a leg amputated,” said Felicity. “His knees had hurt since the war, but the leg pain was probably from standing talking to customers.”

Earlier this year, Alec was taken to Winchester hospital for a week, where it was decided he should be put on palliative care. He was moved to the Countess of Brecknock Hospice, where he “deteriorated quickly” in his final weeks before he passed away on February 12.

“I can’t believe he’s gone,” said Felicity. “He had a good life, and was a good father.”

Felicity thanked the many members of the public who sent in cards following Alec’s passing, and shared their stories with her.