Obituary: Well-known Gorleston hotelier, Rotarian and life saver Peter Barfield.

PUBLISHED: 17:00 18 August 2012 | UPDATED: 17:34 18 August 2012

Hospitable and heroic: Peter Barfield.

Hospitable and heroic: Peter Barfield.


Peter Barfield, a well-known hotelier and Rotarian who won awards for bravery, has died aged 77.

Mr Barfield, who ran the Pier Hotel in Gorleston until his retirement in 1994, died peacefully at his home on July 28.

The passionate Norwich City fan came from a family of hoteliers, had a long involvement with the armed forces and the Rotary Club.

Born in the family home and business - St Edmunds Hotel in Gorleston - he was evacuated to Shropshire during the war, aged just five, along with brothers Tony and Bill. The military was to dominate the early part of his life post-war as after attending boarding school in Norwich he joined the Merchant Navy at 15.

He returned to the family business after four years at sea, but was soon after called for national service, joining the Royal Artillery, where he learned to fire 25lb guns and attended catering college at Aldershot.

After fulfilling his duties he again returned to St Edmunds Hotel, but did not forget his love of the military by signing up to the Royal Norfolk Regiment of the Territorial Army, where he excelled - being promoted to Sergeant in Charge of the Officer’s Mess.

It was during this time that he met and married his first wife Jenny, and moved to Bradwell with children Julie, Kevin and Melanie. They later took over the Pier Hotel where Jenny soon became ill and died.

He found love again in 1982, marrying Judy, who worked with him at the Pier Hotel until their retirement.

Mr Barfield became known for his hospitality, and a number of organisations began to use the hotel as a base. Local branches of the philanthropic groups the Rotary Club, the Probus Club and Great Yarmouth Round Table met there along with the local fishing and hockey clubs.

He became actively involved with Gorleston Rotary Club from 1970 and became chairman in 1984. During his time on the club’s international committee, he established links with the Danish club, Randers South, forging long lasting bonds.

Retiring to South Walsham, Peter became Commodore of the International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians and the Ranworth Squadron and was a member of the Broads 41 Club. He had a love of the water and chartered fishing trips on his boat the Joan and Doris.

He spent many happy hours on the Norfolk Broads, hosting parties for family and friends.

He also enjoyed gardening and painting in his spare time and his family remember him as a man with a wonderful sense of humour, who always had a funny story to tell and was the perfect host.

As well as being a warm host and good wit, he was twice hailed as a hero, as a boy and adult. He was awarded two Royal Humane Society Awards, one at the age of 12 for saving a boy from drowning in the sea at Gorleston, the other for saving a local policeman from drowning in the River Yare in 1984.

He was also a dedicated Norwich City football fan and until recent years rarely missed a home game. The last five years of his life were spent living in Winterton.

He leaves a widow Judy, children, step-children, 11 grandchildren and three great grandsons.

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