HEREFORDSHIRE'S own Only Fools and Horses star, John Challis, has died after a battle with cancer, it has been announced today.

The popular star was a well-known face in the county, regularly making appearances.

Born in Bristol before moving to south east London as a small child, the 19-year-old, who had spent childhood holidays in Symonds Yat, and wife Carole came to Herefordshire in 1998, settling in the historic Abbot's Lodgings at Wigmore Abbey, which has remained their home ever since.

The much-loved actor previously said restoring and preserving the 12th century abbey, which was destroyed in 1530 in the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and which was used as a filming location in sitcom The Green Green Grass, which Challis starred in, was his and his wife's passion.

Wigmore Abbey is also home to Wigmore Books, set up in 2011 to publish books of general and local interest, fiction and non-fiction

A well-known figure in the county, Challis made regular appearances at special events, from cutting the ribbon at Orleton's new village hall kitchen in 2018 to opening garden festivals and fetes in the county.


He was also keen to support Herefordshire charities, with £2 from every sale of his 2011 autobiographical book Being Boycie – published by Wigmore Books – going to the Martha Trust, which helps profoundly disabled young people.

In 2014, he was joined by former Bond girl Fiona Fullerton and stage and screen stars Sue Holderness and John Standing as a judge at Hereford's own Strictly Dancing gala at the Point4 in Hereford.

The event raised thousands for Hereford Cathedral's Perpetual Trust.

Speaking to the Hereford Times ahead of the dances, Challis said: “The cathedral is part of my life – it’s a wonderful place and such good works are done there.

“I live in an ancient building myself so I have a lot of sympathy for what the trust is trying to do.”

Other Herefordshire causes to benefit from Challis' help and fundraising efforts include Hereford County Hospital's Renton Unit,

Challis also published Wigmore Abbey, a book about his Herefordshire home and why he and Carole decided to buy it.

The star had strong opinions over plans for Hereford's bypass, writing a public letter to Hereford Council in 2011 to tell them of his dismay at learning of the proposed inner western relief road for the city, citing the county's rich heritage and green fields.

"While I am fully aware of the nightmare of driving through the city centre, I cannot agree with the siting of this route," he said.

"I encourage people to visit Herefordshire for its stunning scenery and ancient buildings and here is an example of a plan to destroy both.

"I used to visit Symonds Yat as a child and I came to live here 13 years ago. Generally the countryside has changed little over the years but gradually the pristine landscape is being eaten into and scarred forever.

"It is incomprehensible to me that you would back such a decision when there are other options."

During the coronavirus pandemic, Challis delighted local bin collectors with a special message placed on his bin thanking them for the work they were doing.

Speaking at the time, FCC Environment’s Mike Stass said: “We have received a number of heartfelt messages from all corners of the UK thanking our teams and wishing them good health. We are delighted to have heard from a familiar face and we thank Mr Challis as well as the wider community in Herefordshire for motivating us to continue our vital duties.”