Tributes to leading figure in tourism

TRIBUTES have been paid to a leading north Suffolk businessman who died earlier this month.

Peter Catchpole was a prominent member of the fishing industry in Lowestoft before acquiring Broadland Holiday Village at Oulton Broad and developing it to become one of the finest holiday parks in East Anglia.

Asa Morrison, principal service manager for culture, tourism and sport at Waveney District Council, said: 'Peter was an ambassador for the tourism industry in the area, he was a founder member of the Waveney Tourism Forum, a critical part of the management of the Lowestoft Fish Fair and instrumental in setting up Oulton Broad Community Enterprise.

'Broadland Holiday Village is one of the best holiday parks in the area and this is due to Peter's hard work and dedication in developing his business. A wonderful person who will be sadly missed.'

Mr Catchpole, who died on Tuesday, November 9, at the age of 72, was born in Lowestoft and educated at Orwell Park School, near Ipswich, and at Stowe in Buckinghamshire where he was a talented athlete.

His abiding love for the fishing industry emerged early in his life and, as a child, he spent as much time as possible playing around in boats with his brother George.

On leaving school, Mr Catchpole went on to serve with the Suffolk Regiment, with whom he completed his national service. After completing national service, he joined the Boyd Line Fishing Company in Hull and later became assistant manager at Boston Deep Sea Fisheries. He was quickly promoted to manager of one of the largest fleets of fishing boats in the UK, based at Lowestoft.

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Almost immediately he was forced to deal with the loss of the Boston Pionair with all hands, and the wonderful support he received from the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen generated an enduring admiration for their work.

As a result, Mr Catchpole worked tirelessly to support the mission and became involved in the mission council.

As the fishing industry began its long slow decline in the 1970s, Mr Catchpole recognised that the dramatic rise in the North Sea oil industry offered opportunities for the redundant fishing boats. These boats were considered to be ideal safety boats for the industry and Boston Putford Offshore Safety Service was born.

While all of this development was proceeding at a rapid rate, Mr Catchpole was offered the post of managing director of another large fishing company at the time based in Grimsby, Tom Sleights.

Never standing still for a moment, he simultaneously set up an inshore ship and fish sales management company, Ness Point Fisheries, and built a significant interest in Warbler Fishing that also participated in both oil rig safety standby work and oil exploration.

Later in life this led to him being invited to join the Fishmongers Company and also to be given the Freedom of the City of London, which Mr Catchpole felt was a great honour.

Much later these businesses were sold to a large American organisation and again Mr Catchpole's life changed direction as a result.

Mr Catchpole went on to acquire Broadland Holiday Village in Oulton Broad in 1987 and became managing director.

Driven by his usual passion and enthusiasm, the holiday village developed into a first class holiday park and leisure centre achieving many national accolades and awards for quality and service.

One of Mr Catchpole's many attributes was his concern for the underprivileged and he worked tirelessly in Lowestoft Rotary Club, becoming president in 1993. He encouraged Rotary to support Hope and Homes for Children.

Mr Catchpole leaves his wife Audrey, three children, four grandchildren and many other family members and friends.

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