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Tribute to Peter Fancourt who ran Fancourt’s Garage in St Paul’s Street, Stamford

When the River Welland froze in February 1963, Peter Fancourt spotted an opportunity.

The 33-year-old owner of Fancourt’s Garage in St Paul’s Street phoned the water board and was told he could drive a “fully loaded brewer’s dray” over ice as thick as it was.

Instead he chose a Mini, and one of the most iconic images of a Stamford resident was made.

Peter Fancourt with the Mini he drove on the frozen River Welland
Peter Fancourt with the Mini he drove on the frozen River Welland

The photo - taken before Peter drove the car over the frozen river between Town Bridge and Albert Bridge - is one treasured all the more by family members following his death on Saturday, aged 91.

Born at 37 St Paul’s Street in 1929, in a house where Stamford Endowed Schools’ shop now stands, Peter followed his father into the motors trade, having left Stamford School aged 15.

Fancourt’s Garage was also in St Paul’s Street and when his father, Jack Fancourt, died in 1959, Peter took over the business, running it with his mother, Adelaide.

Peter Fancourt in his 'radio shack' at home in St Paul's Street, Stamford
Peter Fancourt in his 'radio shack' at home in St Paul's Street, Stamford

By then Peter was married to Jean Colbert, who he met while they were both serving with the St John Ambulance in Stamford.

The couple had three children, Wendy, who now lives in North Yorkshire, and Julie and Ed who both live in Stamford.

Having sold Fancourt’s Garage to Marshall Group in the 1970s, Peter put off retirement by working for Cascelloid in West Street, and as a cataloguer for Stamford Museum, a job he had thoroughly enjoyed.

He also enjoyed amateur radio, and would communicate with friends locally and further afield under the call sign G3HEE.

Jean died in 1999 and some years later, aged 76, Peter decided to try online dating.

He met Kirsty, who he married in 2006 in her native Scotland, before they returned to live together in St Paul’s Street.

Peter died at home and had requested no funeral is held. Instead there will be a cremation and family memorial later in the year. Peter’s ashes will be scattered at Burnham Overy Staithe on the north Norfolk coast, where he had enjoyed sailing a dinghy with his children in his younger days.

Wendy described her dad as a kind man who never lost his sense of humour.

“He was a gentle man and a gentleman,” she said. “The carers would come in and ask how he was and, no matter how he felt, he would always reassure them he was fine.”

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