Loving mum and dedicated shop founder dies, aged 68

editorial image

The “unrivalled passion” shown by the founder of a Sudbury cookery shop has been remembered following her death.

Rafi Fernandez, who set up Rafi’s Spicebox in 1988, died at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds last Monday.

The 68-year-old had suffered with lung disease for a number of years.

Mrs Fernandez’s son Lee said his mum, who moved to England from India in the 1965, was well known in Sudbury and would be much missed.

“Lots of people will remember her as she had a very infectious personality,” said Lee, 38.

“She didn’t mince her words and always got to the point, but she was so generous with her time. She was dedicated to her work.”

Mrs Fernandez, of Chilton Corner, Great Waldingfield, decided to open a shop selling spices and ingredients after teaching herself to cook on her travels around the world.

Her business, which now operates in North Street, is run by her husband Den Garnett’s son Chris. Her son Lee runs another branch of Rafi’s in York with his brother Kevin.

“Even though she was ill, she always gave us lots of support,” said Lee. “She was a great mum and I will miss her.”

Mrs Fernandez, who wrote a number of cookery books, also had an 11-year-old granddaughter Lily-Rose.

“She doted on my daughter and would often look after her,” said Kevin, 42.

“She had so much love and care and her passion was unrivalled, not just in business but in how she looked after us and travelled. Her drive spurred us all on.”

Mrs Fernandez’s funeral will be held at St Gregory’s Church in Sudbury on Tuesday at 11.30am.