Hundreds pay tributes to 'workaholic' Wigan shopkeeper

Tributes have poured in for a “workaholic” shopkeeper and dad-of-three following his death.

Wednesday, 27th January 2021, 9:38 am
Updated Wednesday, 27th January 2021, 9:51 am

Tributes have poured in for a “workaholic” shopkeeper and dad-of-three following his death.

Vajal Halai, known to most as Val and even “Big Boss” to many of his customers, died on January 20, two weeks after being admitted to hospital with Covid-19. He was 60 years old.

The father-of-three and grandfather-of-eight lived in Higher Ince but is originally from Bolton.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Val Halai

He owned two shops in the borough, Nisa in Smithy Green and a Costcutter in Standish Lower Ground.

One of Val’s sons, Mitesh, paid a glowing tribute, praising his dad’s work ethic and describing his popularity among Wiganers.

He said: “From a young age, he had a milk round, and at the same time he was a building contractor as well.

“He ran two businesses at once. In 1992, he sold his building contractors and bought an off licence in Little Hulton. Then five years later, he sold that and the milk round, and went back into building. We saw how hard he worked.

Val Halai (second from left) with his family

“We bought the shop in Smithy Green, then a few years later bought one in Standish Lower Ground. Even though it was our shop, every decision we made was with him. He was like the heartbeat of the business.

“Last year, we started a property portfolio, and again every decision was made through him.”

Mitesh added: “He worked right to the last minute. He was a workaholic. We could never get him out of the shop!

“If he saw that one of us was tired, he would tell us to go home, he would rather stay there.

“We had to force him to go home and rest. He’d often work 13-14 hours a day, seven days a week.”

On social media, hundreds of touching comments were left by residents who were saddened to hear of Val’s death.

Gordon Lowe wrote: “Like everyone else who knew him, I too thought him to be friendly, helpful and really lovely man. So gutted by this news but know he was a much loved character in our community.”

Barbara Scott said: “Your dad was the most polite helpful gentleman, he always had time for everyone, he knew everybody by their first name, he always had a smile on his face, he was very helpful.”

And Ant Dunners posted: “We grew really close to Val since living here. We are so sad to hear this news.

“He worked hard all year round and always opened for us on Christmas Day. He is well respected in Ince. My little girl will miss her treats from him. “

Thanks for reading. If you value what we do and are able to support us, a digital subscription is just £1 for your first month. Try us today by clicking here and viewing our offers.