Obituary: Metal detector hobbyist who 'loved outdoors' dies at 76
- Credit: Archant copyright 2011
A former businessman whose love of metal detecting enabled him to donate many artifacts of significant interest to a museum in Norfolk has died aged 76.
For years, Michael Aho spent much of his spare time outdoors enjoying hobbies such as hunting, shooting, and looking for treasure.
It was through his metal detecting that he was able to donate many of the Roman finds he discovered to Norwich Castle Museum.
And despite being diagnosed with lung cancer more than half a decade ago, he endeavoured to enjoy his hobbies and time with his family.
Known by all as “Slim” - a nickname given to him as a young man – he was born Michael Stephen Aho, on September 13, 1945, in Thetford.
One of seven siblings, his family moved a lot due to his father serving in the American forces. After Mr Aho was born, the family relocated to America but returned to Norfolk in the UK where they lived in a number of places around the county including Poringland, near Norwich, and Narborough, in west Norfolk.
The family also had a spell living at the former Hethel Camp, as it was then known, now occupied by Lotus cars. Here, the family lived in a prefabricated steel structure called a Nissen hut, and Mr Aho would play in the abandoned tanks. Although there was fun to be had, Mr Aho described living on the camp as “hellish”.
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His daughter, Elise Aho, 43, of Swardeston, south of Norwich, said: “He always kept a love of the outdoors really throughout his life.
“He loved being outside and knew loads about nature, from birds and animals to insects. He would also spend time hunting with a catapult in the woods.”
Mr Aho, who had been married previously, met his former partner at the Green Dragon pub in Thetford during the mid to late 1970s. Together they founded Thetford Glass during the 1980s, with Mr Aho working as a glazer and labourer while she looked after the administration work.
Ten years ago, the couple separated and the business was wound down.
Then, in 2018, Mr Aho moved to East Harling where he continued living with two close friends, originally from Poland, who also helped to care for him.
Before that, he lived at The Barn in Roudham, a former medieval settlement near Thetford, which he had converted himself during the early 1990s before putting it up for sale.
Miss Aho said he had been "very grateful” for his friends, their help and support, and the friendship they shared.
Seven years ago, Mr Aho was diagnosed with lung cancer. Following an operation to remove part of his lung, he remained in relatively good health until recently when his cancer returned and spread to other areas of his body.
He was assisted by the Priscilla Bacon Hospice team during his final week and died at his home on November 3.
Miss Aho added: “He was funny. He liked a joke and playing around and doing mischievous tricks. He was a character – a real good character.
“He was loved and will be missed by many.”
He leaves behind his children, granddaughters, and other members of his extended family.
His funeral took place at St Peter and St Paul’s Church, in East Harling, followed by a private burial on November 30. Donations in his memory have been raised for Priscilla Bacon Hospice and East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) via www.markskinnerfunerals.org.uk
A spokesperson from the EAAA said: “Thank you [to the family] for setting up a tribute in Slim's memory. We hope that [they] find it a comforting way to celebrate his life and a place to share precious memories with family and friends."
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