“He was one of life’s characters - a legend who loved the warmth our family gave him - we kept him real.”
Longridge chocolate brownie queen Justine Forrest paid a warm tribute to film and television celebrity Michael Winner, whose death at 77 was announced on Monday.
Mum-of-three Justine won the food critic’s national competition Michael Winner’s Dining Stars three years ago, and became a celebrity herself after he ‘discovered’ her chocolate brownies - a last minute addition to her contest menu.
Although a bit critical of her beef wellington, the quickly-produced brownies brought forth the Winner comment, “Longridge - the land of the perfect brownie!”
And from there Justine enjoyed national success in more fields than just brownies as a friendship blossomed which saw her career took off with television interviews, articles for magazines on cooking, her amazing weight loss - 14 stone - and her family strengths as two of her children have disability problems.
Justine was also in demand on local radio and national television this week to recall a friend who she met on several occasions and who kept in regular contact after “stomping into my home on that memorable day three years ago - and things have never been the same since.”
He had also stomped around Longridge with the then mayor, Rupert Swarbick, praising local sausage rolls but not pleased with a beefburger lunch at the Duke William.
“I know people either loved him or loathed him, but he appreciated us, the kid’s problems, the warmth our family gave him, something he’d never had,” said Justine.
“He was the most astute man I ever met, I admired the way he said what he thought - he told it like it was. I am really sad also that, where he always sent me signed copies of his books, with my ‘Justine’s Journey’ book which is coming out at Easter time, I won’t be able say to him, ‘this time I’m sending you MY signed book’.”
She will send one, however, to Michael Winner’s wife Geraldine, and flowers and a card have gone for today’s funeral which is for close family and friends, so Justine hopes to attend the memorial service.
As she perfects plans for more speaking engagements, Justine reflects “Michael Winner changed my life and the family’s.
“It has been lovely to be able to speak about him.”
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Weather for Longridge
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 8 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: South west