AN Edinburgh chip shop owner has lost his battle with cancer.
Fernando Alonzi had been a familiar face at The Rig fish and chip shop on Restalrig Road for decades, having worked there with his parents Donato and Iolanda since he was a young boy.
The 48-year-old father-of-two, who had battled oesophageal cancer for 18 months, died surrounded by his family at St Columba’s Hospice, on Boswall Road, Edinburgh, on May 20.
Mr Alonzi will be remembered as a friendly face behind the chip shop counter, a family man and an avid follower of Italian football.
He had closed his business when he was initially diagnosed and treated a year and a half ago.
The premises was refurbished earlier this year, ready for him to start back at work – but sadly the illness came back before he could return to his business.
At the beginning of this month, doctors told him he had three months to live – but he sadly only survived for 18 days.
He told his wife Elena that he was determined to see his daughter Stevania celebrate her 18th birthday and to watch the World Cup with his son Luca, 15.
He lived to see Stevania celebrate her milestone birthday, but sadly died five days later, on the day of her last Higher exam.
His brother-in-law Paolo Crolla, who owns the Gold Sea chip shop on Ferry Road, said: “He held on until her 18th birthday but he didn’t get to watch the World Cup. We picked Stevania up from school on May 20 and then her dad died at the hospice. He told Luca, ‘At least I got to see your sister’s 18th’. He was so proud of them both.”
Mr Alonzi had worked at The Rig most of his life, helping out even while he was still at school at St Peter’s Primary and St Thomas High. He was very passionate about his Italian roots, and regularly went on family trips to Picinisco in Italy’s Lazio region, where his relatives were originally from.
As well as his wife and children, he is also survived by his parents, who are in their eighties.
Mr Crolla said: “The way that St Columba’s looked after him was marvellous. He was so well-known. He was virtually born in that chip shop.
“He was just such a family man, such a role model. He loved to spend all his time with his family.”
Mr Crolla said relatives had been inundated with cards from customers paying tribute to Mr Alonzi.
Hundreds of people from the city’s close-knit Italian community attended his funeral at St Mary’s Cathedral this morning.
To meet his last wishes Mr Alonzi’s body will be flown to Picinisco tomorrow, where he will be buried.
Mr Alonzi’s family hopes to launch a fundraising drive in his memory, to raise money for St Columba’s Hospice, a registered Scottish charity which offers free specialist palliative care for up to 30 in-patients at a time.