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Daughter pays tribute to former RAF pilot dad who was 'proper gentleman'

A distinguished RAF pilot and British Airways manager from Maidenhead who had dinner with the Queen has been remembered as ‘a proper old- fashioned gentleman’ by his daughter.

Captain Peter Fotherby passed away from COVID-19 at Wexham Park Hospital on January 13 at the age of 96.

He had enjoyed independence in his later life and loved living in his Chapel Wharf flat, above Bakedd, near Maidenhead riverside, his daughter Sue Beale said.

Originally from Scarborough, Yorkshire, Peter and his late wife Joyce moved to Maidenhead in 1947 and he stayed in the town, originally renting a house, before buying a property in Oaken Grove.

A move to Pinkneys Green followed, before another relocation near Boulters Lock, and then he settled in Bridge Road.

Sue remembered that Peter and his first wife Joyce chose to move to Maidenhead by sticking a pin on a map around the London area, after Peter was told he had to live near an airport in the capital. The pin landed on Maidenhead.

Joyce – a first of three wives – died in 1995 from a brain haemorrhage. She was a former Conservative mayor of Maidenhead in the 1970s, and again when the local authority became known as the Royal Borough.

Captain Peter Ian Fotherby spent decades in aviation, joining the RAF in 1941, aged 17, and training as a pilot.

By 19, he was flying in command of Wellington bombers and was made a Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur for his role in the liberation of France.

After the Second World War, he joined the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) and flew a variety of aircraft, including the Comet 1 and the VC10.

By the time of his retirement at 55, Peter was flight training manager of British Airways’ 747 fleet.

Sue said: “He suffered all sorts of catastrophes but managed to get him and his crew home safely. He passed on his knowledge to my brother Michael, who became a captain. That was a proud moment for Dad.”

Peter married Joyce in 1946 and had two children, Sue and Michael, who died in his late 40s from a brain condition.

Above: Peter and his late wife Joyce meeting the Queen and Prince Phillip, when Her Majesty opened King Edward Court in Windsor, in 1980.

Peter's success in aviation led him to share the dinner table with the Queen and Prince Phillip. He was part of the flight crew for the Queen’s six-week tour of India in 1961.

“They used to go to all the Royal receptions, and met the Queen on a number of occasions in passing,” Sue remembered of her parents.

“Dad had tea with the Queen and Prince Phillip, and she gave him a signed photograph and a pair of cufflinks.”

Sue added that Her Majesty recognised her father when she saw him several years later.

She said:“It was so exciting when Dad came home because he would always have something in his suitcase for us,.

“Everybody said that he was a proper, old-fashioned gentleman.

“He was a lovely, lovely man.”

A private funeral for Peter will be held on February 10. The family have set up a fundraising page in aid of the Sue Ryder Home, which can be found at

Peter in his flying days

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