Hundreds of people paid their respects to a “one in a million” Derby businessman and father today.
There were emotional scenes at the Guru Arjun Dev Gurdwara temple and Markeaton Crematorium this morning where huge numbers consisting of his family and friends celebrated the life of Gurmukh Singh Sohal who passed away aged 65 earlier this month.
Mr Sohal founded Derby food company Sohal Foods and was well known and worked with dozens of restaurants and other businesses over the years.
While working for British Rail as a conductor, Mr Sohal opened his first corner shop on Porter Road in 1982, Sohal Food Store, where Mrs Sohal worked in the day and Mr Sohal worked in the evenings.
This shop was one of the first in Derby stocking the specialist Asian foods and spices than can now be seen in many other stores.
His store then moved to Dale Road – just yards away where he was remembered today at the Guru Arjun Dev Gurdwara temple – and Sandown Business Park.
In what was an emotional day for hundreds of people, Mr Sohal’s body was released inside the Dale Road temple for people to pay their final respects to him.
His body and coffin were then taken to Markeaton Crematorium where hundreds packed the room to attend a funeral service dedicated to his life.
A poem was read out by his daughter Narinda before a heartfelt speech was made by his son Bhupinder Sohal who said his dad was a man who would be sorely missed by many.
“Hard working, humble, honest, generous, dependable, understanding – these are some of the words to describe my father,” he said.
“He never had a bad word to say about anybody. He was never able to say no to anyone and would always offer help.
“He accepted everyone for who they were. He was truly one-in-a-million. What a man he was – he was so special in many ways.”
The funeral concluded with Mr Sohal’s family and friends releasing gold and blue balloons into the sky as a mark of respect. Visitors to the funeral then went back to the temple for final prayers.
In 2006, Mr Sohal was featured in the book 50 Years of Punjabis In Derby which was published to celebrate the achievements of some of the most influential Punjabi citizens of Derby.
Two years later he began his mission to make improvements in his home village Sangal Sohal in India by creating a fund to modernise the drainage and sewerage system in the village, install street lighting, construct roads, create a park area and plant trees.
Tributes poured in for the Derby businessman when his death was announced by his family last week.
Mahmood Akhtar and staff at Shalimar Gold restaurant said: “Mr Sohal was my supplier for 30 years. When I heard he had died, I felt really shocked.
“He was such a nice person, not just to me, but to the whole community. He was very helpful when a person opened their business. I really feel sorry for his family.”
Mr Sohal, who was originally from India and moved to Derby as a teenager in 1966, leaves behind his two sons, Bhupinder Sohal, 34, and Narinderpal Sohal, 43, daughter Narinder Baraclough, 44, his wife Debo Kaur Sohal, 63, and his mother Chanan Kaur, who is 100 years old.
Source: Derby Telegraph