Jeweller retires at 83

Jeweller Bernard Homer has retired after 54 years as a store owner on the south coast.

Bernard Homer with Karen Toulouse, new owner Caleb Boddy and Justine Clifford, right. Picture: Liz Pearce LP170717
Bernard Homer with Karen Toulouse, new owner Caleb Boddy and Justine Clifford, right. Picture: Liz Pearce LP170717

Bernard, who lives in Worthing, felt that at the age of 83, working full time was getting too much for him so he advertised his Rustington shop, in The Street, and then sold it to a new owner.

He said: “I have been working six days a week, which has been a lot for me. I have loved every minute. It is a big step for me, having worked all these years. I felt lost that first morning.”

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Although the shop is called B L Homers, it was once part of a chain under the umbrella Arun Goldsmith Company.

Bernard started with a shop in Littlehampton in 1963, grew the business to seven shops, then reduced to just the Rustington one, which he had for 46 years.

“I started off originally in London, in the tailoring business. I had asthma and the doctors suggested it could be caused by the job,” he said.

“I saw a job advertised at a jewellery shop in The Strand and I loved it from the start. I went to Chelsea College and learned gemmology then progressed to manager.

“I wanted to have my own shop and saw one advertised in Littlehampton that was a similar repair shop. He wanted to retire like me now. I started that in High Street then took over the one in Rustington.

“I worked hard and built it up and at one time had seven shops, two in Worthing, in Chichester and Bognor Regis.

“When I decided to semi-retire, I kept the shop in Rustington, which has been there for 20 years.”

New owner Caleb Boddy is keeping the same shop name and the same staff – Karen Toulouse, who worked with Bernard for 40 years, and Justine Clifford, who worked with him for 29 years.

Bernard said: “It is nice for the girls, Karen and Justine. It is like a little family business.

“I will miss seeing the customers and the girls who worked with me every day. They are wonderful girls. We got on very well as a team.”

Bernard has two children but said they were not interested in the jewellery business. His daughter, Debbie, runs a successful babywear shop in Herne Bay and son David works for the government.

Bernard divorced about 25 to 30 years ago and now has a partner, Jennifer.

He enjoys playing bowls at Worthing Pavilion Bowling Club and swims at David Lloyd Leisure in Durrington. He plans to ensure he keeps fit in retirement.