Tributes paid to ‘special’ Prezzo Bury St Edmunds waiter Kevin Wilcox after he died aged 53
- Credit: Gregg Brown
Tributes have been paid to a one-of-a-kind waiter and popular Bury St Edmunds character who died last week.
The death of Kevin Wilcox, 53, who worked as a floor supervisor at Prezzo for half a decade, has shocked his family, colleagues and the community.
Kevin died on Friday February 19 from a suspected heart attack after driving himself to West Suffolk Hospital with chest pains.
“I just can’t believe he is not going to come back through the door,” said his manager and friend Zoltan Szabo. “He was a very special man.
“I may have been his manager but I looked up to him, he was so good at what he does – many people are just good but he was brilliant, it came from the heart. There is no one better than him at making people feel special and welcome. I tried to copy him but I can’t.
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“We are in shock, it was 9pm on Thursday that Kevin said to me ‘see you on Saturday, boss’ and then I got all the messages saying he has died on Friday – it doesn’t seem real.
“He would have wanted us to carry on his spirit, and we will try but no one can do it like he did.”
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Middlesbrough-born Kevin leaves behind mother Dorothy, brothers David and Gary and sister Dawn.
He moved to Bury several years ago after visiting a school friend and falling in love with the town and has decades of experience in pubs and restaurants.
Brother Gary, 54, said: “He was always the life and soul of the party. We always said when he moved away that a party was not the same without Kev.
“We are just beginning to get a feel for how much of an impact he had on people, we knew he was good at his job but the response has been incredible.
“Customer service is what he was all about and he clearly perfected it. He was brilliant with children, he never had any of his own but he always made sure kids had fun. He was great with my two oldest. My eldest daughter idolised him and is very cut up about it. I don’t think Kev ever realised how much of an impact he had on people. It all came from the heart.”
Kuldip Sehmi, executive director of Prezzo and its 240 restaurants, said Kevin was the best at his job in the entire company.
He said: “I first met him when we bought the Bury restaurant, he was a waiter then and I knew we had to keep him on.
“It is very sad and a loss to the whole company. Just terrible news. I am always talking about him to area managers and other people in the company – I was just saying how good he was a few days before he died.
“He was the best in the company and an example to others. I have been working in restaurants for maybe 30 years and he was the best guy we had, the best I have seen.”
His “one-of-a-kind” customer service earned Kevin an award from the Business Improvement District (BID) organisation ourburystedmunds in 2014.
Chief executive of the BID Mark Cordell said that the town will miss him. “He was nominated by his customers for the award – I am glad we were able to recognise his talents,” he said.
“We were very lucky to have him. He had a distinctive style and was clearly valued by customers. It is a real shock and at such a relatively young age as well. He clearly loved his job as you cannot fake his kind of enthusiasm day in day out – he was larger than life.”
Hundreds of Bury residents took to Facebook to pay their tributes after hearing the news. On the Facebook page We Love Bury St Edmunds Mariam Claydon paid tribute, saying: “Kevin was the best waiter in Bury, and probably further. I first met him 4/5 years ago when he brought out my birthday cake in Prezzo singing ‘happy birthday’.”
Debs Ambler added: “Kevin was my neighbour. He was kind and caring – he took me out to dinner for my birthday, bought me wine and chocolates. A lovely man [he] will be greatly missed.”