Gomer Roberts was a big presence, both physically, and in the community.
Although not a man to put himself forward as a figurehead for any local campaigns, he was nevertheless a person whom many people knew. He stood out due to his size, but to anyone who got closer, for his warmth and wit – a true gentle giant.
He was always happy to give his time away, whether that was spending the day at the Blue Christmas Fair, handing out presents, dressed as Father Christmas, or acting as ‘bouncer’ at a free pensioners’ party, hosted by the News in Southwark Park.
His friends were shocked when he was found dead in his flat above The Greyhound pub in Peckham in May.
Since then some of his friends, and the News, have been on a desperate search for any of his relatives, so that they could be told the tragic news, but also so that his funeral could be arranged. Newspapers and websites in Gomer’s native country, Wales, have also joined in, with the story being shared online thousands of times.
Unfortunately, this search, although quite extensive, has proved fruitless.
So it is heartening to see that his friends, from landlords at his local pubs, to people he knew around the area, are not sitting back to let him have a local authority funeral.
In a demonstration of true Bermondsey spirit, money is being collected to pay for a ‘farewell funeral he deserves’.
So far around £1,000 of the £3,000 needed has been arranged already by The Old Bank pub in Southwark Park Road, even though it only started collecting on June 14.
Gomer was also friends with many at the News, so we hope that the money needed is soon raised, and that this big man is given a big final farewell.