ON MY LIFE - Barry 'the charity' Coombs
Hilarious adventures in the life of a betting shop legend. How he ever reached adulthood is a miracle in itself. The ghost hunt that went very wrong caused the barmaid to pee her pants. That's nothing compared with the effect it had on the courting couple in the car parked nearby. How do you begin to understand a young man who packs in his job as a trainee architect to go cleaning cars at Luton airport, just to win a bet? He really shouldn't drink. Escorted out of their country by the German border control police meant a long walk home. It was thirsty work and meant stopping for a drink quite often. It took ten days to get home.
During 43 years in the betting industry he was held up and robbed twelve times. Barry was very tempted to name his book, 'Life looking down a gun barrel.' Heart of gold and memory like a sieve! How do you explain losing the house in a game of cards? Ask his first wife. It was worse still with his second one, after 23 years she couldn't stand the sight of him. He must have had a few good points though, because over the years he raised more than half a million pounds for sick and terminally ill children. His reward was to bring some happiness into their life and to see them smile.
Barry started a seafood business and watched it growing towards exciting proportions.The world was his oyster. Then he put a shark in charge of a plaice and was hung up to dry like a kipper. During his career he became aware that each time he worked in a greyhound stadium, it would be pulled down to make way for a housing estate. He developed 'builder phobia'! He loved his beer but unfortunately developed throat cancer and had to stop drinking. After his operation, he recovered and got the all clear. The consultant asked him if he had learned anything from the illness to which he replied, 'yes, cancer makes you thirsty!'
Two years ago, his love for Chinese food resulted in him falling in love with the lady at the Chinese take away. Wing Man has become the love of his life. Now he takes her away whenever he can: Atlantic City, New York, Southend. Asked to describe his new found relationship he replied, 'we go together like sweet and sour', (let's hope not!!).
Today he is the Betting and Events Manager at Towcester Racecourse. Having been instrumental in the recent development of a new greyhound circuit at Towcester, he is constantly looking over his shoulder for the first sign of bricklayers!