Petworth’s Richard Whitcomb dies suddenly at 59

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The man behind the hugely successful Petworth Marquee Hire business and life long lover of sport, Richard Whitcomb, has died suddenly after a short illness at the age of 59.

Richard who was also well known for the legendary cricket matches, he hosted at the Foxleigh Farm home in Kirdford he shared with his wife Elaine, died at St Richards Hospital, Chichester on Friday May 19.

His funeral will take place tomorrow (Thursday June 8) at 2pm at the parish church of St Mary The Virgin at Petworth.

Richard was brought up at The Welldiggers pub in Petworth with his brother Michael, which was run for some 50 years by their parents, the well known couple Ted and Pat Whitcomb.

His grandfather ‘Timer’ Whitcomb had been landlord there for nine years and his parents, Ted and Pat took over in 1956, running the Welldiggers together until Pat’s death in 2002.

Richard and his brother supported their father who continued to run the pub until his death in 2012.

Richard attended school in Petworth first at the primary school and then at Herbert Shiner and went on to Midhurst Grammar School.

After school he studied catering at Chichester College and then started his own business ‘Shifter Shop’ buying, selling and delivering antiques.

He married his wife Elaine at St Mary’s Church in Petworth in 1995 and lived in Angel street until they bought Foxleigh Farm where they ran a free range chicken farm and developed their Petworth Marquee Hire. This became a hugely successful business providing marquees for many local events, as well as high profile celebrity events across the south of England and always supporting other local businesses.

It was at Foxleigh Farm that, for many years, he hosted his legendary cricket matches attracting friends, colleagues and local players.

He was a great sportsman throughout his life and as well as organising his own cricket matches at his Kirdford home, he played for the Petworth Park Cricket Club for many years.

Richard was also a keen golf player and was a long standing member of the Cowdray Park Golf Club.

He also played football for Petworth in Petworth Park.

In addition, in latter years he became a motorcycle enthusiast, buying himself a motorbike and joining a small band of friends on tours including trips to Europe.

Richard was also very interested in and knowledgeable about the history of the second world war and

this interest led him to travel abroad to visit war graves on the Continent.

Richard was a huge, larger than life character. He loved Petworth, his home with Elaine and friends. He was always the life and soul of the party and at the same time, all his life, he cared about and was always very interested in people.

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