Death of Felixstowe campaigner

A WELL-KNOWN Felixstowe campaigner, who cared passionately about the town in which he lived, has died.Former newsagent Peter Wheatley had a huge number of interests, but his main concern was the coast and he carried out research over many years into erosion, sea defences, war-time incidents, coastal communities and their histories.

A WELL-KNOWN Felixstowe campaigner, who cared passionately about the town in which he lived, has died.

Former newsagent Peter Wheatley had a huge number of interests, but his main concern was the coast and he carried out research over many years into erosion, sea defences, war-time incidents, coastal communities and their histories.

He and his wife Mary ran a shop in the town for 32 years - her parents had opened it in 1962 and they took it over in 1969.

It was originally on the corner of St Andrew's Road and Hamilton Road, and then in 1986 they moved to bigger premises in Hamilton Road, eventually closing when they retired in 2000.

Wheatley's was not just a newsagent and sweet shop, but also specialised in toys, particularly model cars and construction kits, such as Airfix and Revell, and their accessories.

Mrs Wheatley said: “Sadly, today's youngsters just don't have those interests any more - when we started stocking the model kits it was a big thing for children and very popular.

Most Read

“It was one of Peter's passions but after we closed it was another type of shop lost to Felixstowe.”

He was very skilled with the models and one of his hobbies was sign-writing on model cars to personalise them for businesses - such as trade vans or lorries - or as unusual gifts for people for anniversaries or page boys at weddings.

Just hours before he collapsed and died at his home in Colneis Road at the age of 69, he was completing a set of model vans commemorating the finding of the Felixstowe bomb last month.

Mrs Wheatley said her husband had always been passionate about his community, always willing to get involved in issues or to help other people carrying out research or working on projects.

She said: “He knew a huge amount about so many things and could jaw the hind leg off a donkey, but he always wanted to help and if he knew something about a subject would contact the person involved to see what he could do.

“Peter was always very concerned so many people stood by and did nothing about issues.”

He had suffered heart problems since they retired.

Mrs Wheatley added: “He was quite poorly at times and doctors said the last seven years were a real bonus. He will be greatly missed.”

Mr Wheatley, a keen scuba diver in his younger days and who also served in the RAF, was very involved in the campaign with Joe Potter which succeeded in getting a memorial to the crew of a Lancaster bomber which crashed in war time after its crew sacrificed themselves by avoiding the resort.

He also voiced his fears consistently over the state of the beach and the erosion, advocated different types of sea defences, argued for keeping the Bartlet Hospital, as well as researching a Roman village which was sited on the seashore.

A funeral service will be held on Wednesday May 28 at 2.30pm at Ipswich Crematorium North Chapel.

Pay your tributes to Peter Wheatley - write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk