HEREFORDSHIRE’S business and sporting world has lost a towering inspiration following the death of 80-year-old Peter Burgoyne, affectionately known as ‘the Commander’.

The Union flag has flown at half-mast outside the Lyonshall-based family business, Burgoynes, and at the parish church of St Michael and All Angels since the news was announced on Tuesday night.

For almost half a century, Peter was a mainstay of the marquee and haulage enterprise launched by his grandfather, William Henry Burgoyne, in 1909.

Jim Burgoyne, who now runs the business, said Peter was “one of the driving forces behind the company for many years.” His late grandfather, Reg, was Peter’s cousin.

“Peter applied the same passion he had for life, family and sport into the business world,” said Jim.

Peter’s presidency of the marquee trade association, MUTA, on two occasions, was a “very rare honour,” he added. Peter was one of only three honoured with inclusion in the MUTA Hall of Fame.

“This is a testament to the respect he had within the marquee sector.”

Only two months ago, Peter, who remained a director at Burgoynes, celebrated his 80th birthday with a large party held in a company marquee at Lyonshall. With his family, his wife, Jane, three children and grandchildren, he was joined by many relatives and friends.

At Luctonians Rugby Club, where he was one of the few honoured with life membership, Peter, a former club president, chairman and treasurer, has been described as a "real club legend".

Luctonians’ chairman Dickie Williams said: “He managed to raise a wonderful family and run a successful business, but always found time for public service.”

His long commitment to Luctonians was evident in other spheres, including Lyonshall Parish Council, the Church, Kington Show, Kington Golf Club, and at Kington Cricket Club where he was still president.

“A few words is hard to sum up the respect we had for this great man,” said Mr Williams.

He said players would be raising a beer to him after their Saturday match.

A staunch supporter, Peter rarely missed a home game and was a frequent presence at away fixtures.

As a player for Luctonians – he once captained the Second XV and featured in the First XV – he was fondly nicknamed by friends as the ‘Marquee of Lyonshall’.

An inveterate sportsman, Peter was at the Courtyard in Hereford last week, where famous cricketer David Gower had entertained his audience with stories and anecdotes, when he died.

Peter's funeral will be held at St Michael and All Angels, Lyonshall, at 2pm on Thursday, October 24.