STAFF and customers of an Effingham garden centre are in mourning after the sudden death of a feathered friend who had become “part of the family”.
Ruby, the “very beautiful” African grey parrot, first arrived at the Vineries Garden Centre aged six almost eight years ago.
Staff have said they will “miss her terribly” after she died following a sudden stroke on February 22.
General manager Michelle Hudspith said: “She has become one of our family. Some may say this is a little sentimental, but for those of you who knew Ruby, you’ll know it’s true.
“Visited by adults and children alike, she was quite the celebrity, something she was very aware of. Her time with us was quite brief in parrot terms, but a full and good life lived.”
Ruby was always thoroughly spoilt by staff and customers alike, with special titbits of cheese, chicken, walnuts and grapes all given to her in attempts to buy her favour.
Ms Hudspith said: “Whilst a terrible flirt at times, she only tolerated most of us mere mortals, deeming to shower her extra special Ruby love on only the very chosen few.
“Over the years she has given all our team and customers great delight and entertainment.
“She has chatted, danced – her own very special style of bop – and greeted customers and thanked them as they have left, all with great charm.
“A great mimic and whistler, she has always been quick to learn and keen to show off.
“A friend of mine, some years ago, spent much time teaching her Half a Pound of T’uppenny [Pop Goes The Weasel] and you only had to give the first two notes to set off her whole rendition.
“She was at times moody, a little sulky on gloomy days and much lifted on sunny days. Stubborn, nosey, funny, intelligent, chatty and very beautiful all describe Ruby. We would like to thank all our customers for their kind wishes and for giving Ruby so much love and attention over the years. We know you will miss her as much as we will.”