Wroxham Marine owner loses cancer battle

Peter Applegate

Peter Applegate - Credit: Archant

Owner of Wroxham Marine Peter Applegate took the first ride in the company's new boat just days before he lost his battle with cancer over the New Year.

Peter Applegate on one of the Sheerline boats

Peter Applegate on one of the Sheerline boats - Credit: Archant

After two decades of building up the family business, the 63-year-old was diagnosed with Stage Four oesophagus cancer last year.

Hope was scarce as the cancer had spread to Peter's liver, and recovery was unlikely.

Devoting every day of his life to his work, Peter was told shortly before Christmas his chemotherapy treatment was not working, and he had just weeks to live.

Passing on New Year's Eve, he leaves behind wife Elizabeth, 61, and two sons Gary, 40, and James, 41.

Peter Applegate

Peter Applegate - Credit: Archant

'The prognosis was never very good, so it was more about giving him the quality of life and extending his life as much as we could,' said Gary.

Peter had started the marine in 1995, using the Sheerline brand of riverboat, gradually extending the fleet by up to 20 new models.

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Born in Hickling, Peter left Stalham High School at the age of 15 with no qualifications, beginning work at the Norfolk Yacht Agency as an engineer.

He met Elizabeth in school and later joined her working at Richardsons, where she would clean the boats. They married in 1974, living in a caravan with no electricity or hot water until moving to Stalham the next year.

Peter Applegate working on the boats

Peter Applegate working on the boats - Credit: Archant

He held a private pilot's licence, and ran a cafe in Wroxham for 18 years with his wife.

'The whole family have been fairly well involved, including Mum,' Gary added. 'If the floor needed sweeping he would muck in.

'He was very hands-on. Because of that the staff were always going to give him a lot of respect. He did not just sit behind a desk, he worked hard all his life.'

Even in his final months, Peter had his mind on work, and rarely opened up about his health.

'He had never been one for sitting around, and virtually never had a day off in his life,' said Gary. 'All of a sudden he was sat at home not capable of doing much because of his treatment.

'We ran everything past him whether we needed to or not, but it made him feel like he was part of what was going on at the factory. 'He had been such a big part of the company all the way through, and all of a sudden not being able to come in was extremely hard for him. 'He had quite a tough run because he had internal bleeding for a month but never told anyone about it. It was after they did some biopsy tests, one of the cancer growths carried on bleeding afterwards. 'He wasn't one for going to the doctors, he would just put up with things and hope it would be alright.'

Before his death the family took Peter out on the first ride on the new 1090 Hard Top model, and are now rallying round the business in his absence.

'We just want to carry on what dad started now,' Gary said. 'He was really pleased with what we had achieved.

'It was like he gave us his seal of approval.'

The funeral will be held at St Faiths Crematorium on Thursday, January 21, at 2.45pm, with a wake at St Faiths Community Centre.