A SON has paid tribute to his father, whose family ran the iconic greyhound track Walthamstow Stadium, after he died suddenly at the age of 72.

Philip Chandler, from Epping, was tragically found dead in the swimming pool of his Mexican retirement home after a heart attack in July.

His only son, Philip Jnr, said his father was a ‘very generous and kind man’ who spurned the flashy stereotype of a successful nightclub owner.

The nightclub in question was the famous Charlie Chan’s, in Chingford, which enjoyed a roaring trade in the 1980s and 90s, drawing in footballers, gangsters and the east London glitterati.

For many people in Waltham Forest during this time, Charlie Chan’s at the dog track was the place to be and be seen.

It began in 1933, when Philip Jnr's grandfather Bill founded the greyhound track in Empress Avenue and it grew to become one of the leading venues for the sport in the country.

During the 1930s and 40s, tens of thousands of people would regularly attend major events there.

In 1945, Winston Churchill spoke to a packed stadium of 20,000 
people, and a certain David Beckham worked there as a pot-boy before some northern scouts swooped in.

Decades later, after years of success, the stadium was sold to developers in 2008.

Earlier this year, while paying tribute to his elder brother Jack, who died in March aged 74, Philip Snr said the whole family had been upset to lose the greyhound stadium, but said it was a dying sport.

Ahead of a memorial service next week, Philip Jnr said his father was much more than a successful businessman.

He said: “When gambling was legalised in the 1960s, he opened a chain of shops, but Charlie Chan’s was his baby.”

In 2007, his father left the East End and moved to Manzanillo in Mexico to live out his retirement.

Philip Jnr added: “He had a lovely retirement, spending his days walking his dogs and socialising.

“He was involved in many children’s charities and would go out buying more and more toys for kids in the orphanages there.

“At Christmas, he’d give over 200 toys to the children.”

While in Mexico, Philip Snr found a horse dying of starvation, and took it to a vet and then took over the responsibility for its care.

Philip Jnr added: “It took two years for the horse to be nursed back to health and then my father gave it to a young girl as a gift.

“That was the sort of man he was - it was remarkable.”

The family says anyone is welcome to join Philip Chandler’s memorial service, which will be held in St Mary’s Church, in High Road, Chigwell, on Wednesday, November 16.