Peter Boizot: Happy birthday, Mr Peterborough

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Peterborough's most successful entrepreneur Peter Boizot MBE, was in sparkling form celebrating his 80th birthday on Monday.

Peterborough's most successful entrepreneur Peter Boizot MBE, was in sparkling form celebrating his 80th birthday on Monday.Well-respected businessman Peter Boizot MBE organised a free music performance for the public at Peterborough Cathedral last night to celebrate the milestone.

The concert in the Beckett Chapel, which featured music from a jazz band, a choir and a string quartet, followed a private party, attended by around 350 guests.

Mr Boizot, who founded the national restaurant chain Pizza Express, said: "This was a great chance to put on some live music in the city.

"There used to be a lot of shows in the Corn Exchange but now you are lucky to get one performance a month. The live music scene used to be thriving here and I am sorry it's gone."

He is still a cornerstone of the city after founding his business over four decades ago and he was granted the freedom of the city 18 months ago.

Mr Boizot added: "I love the city, but the town centre has seen better days.

"Sadly parts of the city have gone downhill over the decades and people seem to have moved to the outskirts more and more."

And the great and the good of Peterborough have rushed to pay tribute to him on the special occasion.

Former leader of Peterborough City Council John Peach said: "Peter is very passionate about the city and has been an extremely generous benefactor to projects in Peterborough for as long as I can remember.

"If he sees a good cause he would put his time and effort into it without question. I don't think Peter's main interest has ever been making money, but rather improving the city because he loves it so much."

Peterborough United director of football Barry Fry said: "Peter is one of a dying breed of true gentleman who, I believe, doesn't get the recognition he deserves. He should have been given a knighthood years ago.

"He loves the club so I popped over to his house to give him a bottle of Posh bubbly. It is the least we could do."

Manager of Peterborough's Pizza Express Kelly Pindar said: "He is an amazing and outstanding member of the community. Peter is a lovely guy and he deserves all of his success."

Peter Boizot was born in Walton, Peterborough, on November 16, 1929. He went to St Mark's School, in Gladstone Street, before becoming head boy at the King's School, in Park Road.

He was accepted to study History at St Catharine's College at Cambridge University.

He then spent 10 years abroad teaching English in Paris, working for Nestl's publicity department in Switzerland, and in the news photo department of Associated Press, in Rome.

Peter opened the first Pizza Express in March 1965, after failing to find anywhere in London serving Italian food. The chain now has 320 outlets in the UK and 61 aboard.

In 1986, Peter was awarded an MBE in recognition of political and public service.

In the 1990s, Peter invested heavily in businesses in Peterborough buying the Great Northern Hotel in 1993, the former Odeon cinema in 1996 and Peterborough United Football Club in 1997.

He was made a Freeman of the City in 2008..