One of Peterborough’s most successful and well-connected figures has died after a celebrated career which saw him befriend royalty and organise some of the signature events in the city.
Roy Bird, who was known as a very respected show organiser, passed away last Thursday at Peterborough City Hospital through illness, leaving behind his wife of 71 years, Norma.
The 91-year-old from Paston oversaw the formation of the East of England Showground but was best known as chief executive of the East of England Agricultural Society and secretary of the Shire Horse Society.
The agricultural society organised the iconic East of England Show every year, which at its peak attracted 100,000 people, but with numbers dwindling it finished in 2012.
The show had been a key date for generations of Peterborians and was often graced by royal visitors, including the Queen.
The Shire Horse Society, where the Queen is a patron, also used to hold its show at the Showground, which is now called the East of England Arena and Events Centre.
Roy’s neighbour Roger Smith paid tribute to his close friend of 40 years.
“He was one of the most respected people - he was a showman. His badge of office was a bowler hat,” he said.
“He was always considered a real people’s person.
He was an excellent communicator and very, very well respected - I’ve had several letters saying that. He will be very much missed.”
Roy was the longest serving committee member of the Burghley Horse Trials, serving 50 years after an invitation from Lord Exeter, and was presented with a plate of Burghley House by Princess Anne.
Roy knew most of the Royal Family, including the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh, Queen Mother and Princess Anne, and he was invited to Kensington Palace for the 100th birthday of Princess Alice, the Duchess of Gloucester.
Born in 1926 in the Fenland town of March, the former quartermaster sergeant, who served six years in the army and was stationed in the German town of Minden, had a varied and successful life.
Awarded an MBE in 1969, he was also chairman of Norwich and Peterborough Building Society.
The Shire Horse Society said: “The society is very deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our former secretary Mr Roy Bird MBE.
“Mr Bird will be remembered with the greatest of respect.
“Our most sincere condolences go to his family at this time.”
Funeral arrangements will be announced at a later date.