Tributes pour in after death of popular Great Barr chip shop owner
A beloved chip shop owner in Great Barr has died – prompting an outpouring of grief from the local community.
Mihalis Symeou, the owner of Scott Arms Fish Bar, died on Sunday, March 8 at the age of 69 after a sudden heart attack.
Known fondly to locals as 'Michael' or 'Mick', Mr Symeou ran the chip shop for almost four decades.
His family have said they "absolutely heartbroken" at the loss – they have called Mr Symeou the "heart of the family" who "lived for his grandchildren".
The chip shop has been closed since the grandfather's death, and relatives have put a poster on the outside of the building featuring a photo of Michael and the words "RIP Michael.
Michael's family are truly touched by all the love and support received from customers and friends."
His son Andreas said the family were in shock, but were "overwhelmed" at the number of kind comments from people who knew him.
Andreas, age 49, said: "Dad was very humble, and very hard-working. He loved his family dearly and had a mad passion for football – he loved Aston Villa and we would take him to as many games as we could.
"He loved the local community too. We would always tell him to call it a day, close the chip shop, but he wouldn't listen. He loved to say 'what am I going to do? Sit around at home?'
"He loved big family gatherings, with all of us together."
Mr Symeou originated from Cyprus – his family moved to the Midlands area in the 1960s. He would often go back to visit relatives, and attended a Greek Orthodox church in Birmingham.
He lived with his wife Carol in Hillcrest Road, Great Barr – and had two children; a daughter Vasoula, age 50, and his son Andreas, age 49. He also had four grandchildren; Elena, 26, Michael, 22, Gavriella, 16, and Thalia, 14.
He started working with his uncle at a chip shop in Great Barr when he was young in the 1960s, moving to work at one in Hamstead, but returning to Great Barr and taking over the Scott Arms Fish Bar from his uncle in the 1980s.
Mr Symeou's daughter-in-law – Andreas's wife – Yvonne Symeou said: "We’re absolutely heartbroken and in shock. Mihalis (or Mick as called by the locals) was the heart of our family.
"He absolutely loved his four grandchildren and Aston Villa. He was such a family man. He lived for his grandchildren."
The family were planning to take Mr Symeou to Cyprus this July to celebrate his 70th birthday.
People living in Great Barr have also posted their tributes on social media, in shock at the death of the businessman.
He was a familiar face to Great Barr locals for many years.
Netty Phillips, who lives in the area, said: "Many of us have been local for 50 years or more and most of us know Michael's chippy at the Scotts. He sadly passed away. He was a legend in our community and served me as a kid, knew us all by name and then my kids and their kids. He was kind, helpful and caring and will be so sadly missed. I hope his family know how many of us loved him.
"Like most folk I think Michael was so well known as part of this community for so long, so kind, always smiling knew so many of us by name and all our family, and always asked about everyone he knew. His family are overwhelmed by all the comments, he will be so very much missed."
Christopher Peake added: "One of the nicest human beings you could ever meet. He was always interested in your family, constantly asking about each one on every visit. He never forgot. I used his chippy as a kid when the dinner ladies were on strike, he said I should not be eating chips everyday and should get something more healthy, bless him. I still saw him each week on our visits, right up until last week. He will be very much missed, very much."
Gail Warwood also said: "This is such a shock and so very sad to read. Michael was such a kind, caring, family living gentleman. Whenever we drive passed the chippy, no matter what the time we always say out loud 'alright Mike'. We are so very sorry to read this. We send our sincere and deepest sympathy to all of Michaels family and friends."
Mr Symeou's family have said they will share funeral details as soon as they have them – Andreas said the chip shop will likely remain closed until after the funeral has taken place.