Friends pay tribute to Sidmouth maitre-de
- Credit: Archant
Friends of a popular former Sidmouth maître-de have paid tribute to his ‘mischievous sense of humour’ and his famous ‘welcoming smile’.
Manuel Martins worked at the Victoria Hotel for 43 years after moving to the UK from Maderia, Portugal to find work.
The 81-year-old died in a care home in Tavira, Portugal, on February 1.
The eldest of seven children, Manuel left school at 13 to work in his uncle’s café until he was 18, when he was called up for national service in Lisbon.
He moved to the UK with his cousin, unable to speak a word of English, but began working at hotels in Jersey, London, Cheltenham, Suffolk, Wales, St Ives and the Rougemont in Exeter before moving to Sidmouth.
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He began working at the Victoria on August 18, 1970, serving as its restaurant manager and lounge manager during his career.
Matthew Raistrick, area director for Brend Hotels, said: “He was a consummate professional and a charming man with a great sense of humour. He was always immaculately presented - very much of the old school. He was very highly thought of by the guests, colleagues and the Brend family.”
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Jenny Fensom, a friend of more than 30 years, said the Sidford Road resident kept the restaurant beating to a ‘steady rhythm’ and took great pride in providing an exceptional, professional service at all times.
In the last decade of his career, Manuel served as the hotel’s lounge manager, before retiring in 2011 following a decline in his health.
Manuel developed a heart condition and a lymphnoma in his left foot, which was treated successfully following a spell in Sidmouth hospital and treatment at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.
He also began attending Sid Valley Memory Café as he began to suffer memory problems.
Jenny added: “Long-time residents of Sidmouth will never forget Manuel. He had a mischievous sense of humour and told dreadful jokes gleaned from his store of Christmas crackers - howlers reserved specially for his regular ladies who lunch and take tea in the sun lounge.
“His famous welcoming smile and the prompt efficient service he always provided over the years will never be forgotten.”
A funeral service has already been held in Portugal. Any donations in memory of Manuel can be sent to memory cafe or Sidmouth Hospiscare.
A tea party will be held in memory of Manuel at the memory cafe in Twyford House on Wednesday, March 1 at 3pm. At a later date, a private event will be held hosted at The Victoria Hotel.