The owner of a coffee shop in March has died at the age of 69 after years in the catering trade both locally and nationally.

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Peter Wilson, who owned the franchise for Paninis on March market place, was inspired to take up cookery by his mother, a cook at Cromwell Community College in Chatteris and a wedding receptions caterer.

Peter showed his talent for cookery from an early age and after being encouraged to go to 6th Form College in Cambridge, he worked at the University Arms and the Turks Head eventually starting his own business as an outside caterer.

His secretary Jenny Bailey said: “Peter was an extremely popular man, kind, generous and loved by his staff and all who knew him. He touched everyone’s hearts.

“Peter was never afraid to tackle a job no matter how big or small – his standard saying was “you have to be bold”. He would always make everything he did ‘an occasion’.”

From his small beginnings of catering for weddings, dinner parties, Burns nights, private cocktail parties his first big job was to cater for the Queen at the Ely Maltings in the early 70’s when she visited the Cathedral.

He then won large contracts including Tattersalls Sales in Newmarket which attracted the rich and famous including, Omar Sharif, Bob Champion, Sir Henry Cecil, and famous Jockeys such as Willy Carson and Lester Piggot.

He won the catering contract for the Jockey Club, the Racehorse Museum and Burberry’s London as well as major agricultural shows across the region.

Among credits was catering for the Queen and King Khalid when they came to Tattersalls for a private visit and catering for Margaret Thatcher when she visited the Hudson Leisure Centre in Wisbech.

In the 90s he began catering for smaller occasions eventually taking on the Paninis franchise.

Away from work Peter loved horses and was a highly respected judge of show ponies as well as showing his own supreme winners.

He was a council member for the British Show Pony Society and judged many shows including the Royal International, the Horse of the Year Show and even judged at the Australian Horse of the Year Show.

His friend Lorraine Else said: “He was well known for encouraging young competitors, was an amazing friend to many and a real life and soul character. He will be sorely missed.”

His funeral will take place on Monday December 23 at 1.30pm at St John’s Church, March, followed by cremation at Fenland Crematorium. Donations to Papworth Hospital via Turner & Sons funeral directors, March.

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