A WELL-RESPECTED hotelier, businessman and founding member of a Swindon Rotary Club has died at the age of 95.

Peter Clifford established the Blunsdon House Hotel in 1960 and then helped to found what is now known as the Rotary Club of Swindon North.

He remained a member of the club for more than five decades, right up until the day he died.

A spokesman for the club said: “In recent years, failing health prevented Peter from active participation but he continued his membership, interest and support for rotary and the Swindon North Club in particular right to the end.

“For 50 years, Peter gave the club his unwavering support, frequently as a committee chairman with a very hands on approach. Being somewhat shy of public speaking he never did accept a nomination to be the club’s president.

“He had a great talent for the gentle arm-twisting of various suppliers to support our functions and fundraising events

“And so we say a sad and fond farewell to a much-loved and hardworking founder member, our dear friend Peter Clifford, and extend our deepest sympathy and sincere condolences to John abd Carrie and the family.”

Fellow founding member Niall Gurrey remembers meeting Peter and his wife Zan for the first time more than 60 years ago when the couple needed to use his accountancy services.

They hoped to supplement income from their farm at Blunsdon House in 1957 by setting up a bed-and-breakfast in response to demand for accommodation caused by the Bath and West show at the Polo Ground in Swindon.

At the time, Peter and Zan had a small dairy herd, a few pigs, and a poultry breeding area which produced 2,000 chicks a week.

Speaking in 1968, Peter said: “Our first charges for accommodation, when my wife was doing the cooking and I was the odd-job boy between farming activities, was 15 shillings (75p) for room and breakfast, and we were getting what at that time seemed a large through-put of perhaps eight to 10 people a week.”

In 1960 the B&B became a licensed country club, then it continued to grow into a four-star hotel. Zan passed away in 2013.

Peter joined Swindon’s only Rotary Club in 1959 and it was later decided that another club was needed, so he used his business contacts to recruit potential Rotarians.

Rotary International chartered the new North Wiltshire club in 1966 and Peter offered his hotel as a meeting place, changing his classification from poultry breeder to hotelier.

It was noted at the time that his hobbies were gliding, snooker and horticulture.

Sir Terry Wogan joined the club’s first Celebrity Dinner event in 1976 with more than 300 guests.

In 1998. Peter successfully resurrected and organised an old fundraising idea, ‘Horse Races on Film’, which raised a sizeable sum.

In 1991, the club presented Peter with a top Rotary honour – the Paul Harris Award, named after the movement’s American founder – as a mark of gratitude for hosting the club at the Blunsdon House for a quarter of a century.

In its 54th year, the club still meets weekly in Blunsdon House Hotel.