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Retired hotelier and restaurateur Carl Watkins has died, aged 86

A touching family tribute has been paid to Carl Watkins, who has died at the age of 86 and was described by son Mark in terms that many people across south Warwickshire will recognise - hotelier, restaurateur and bon viveur.

Carl moved to Warwickshire with his wife Joanna and their four sons in the 1970s and they quickly had an impact on the community. Together they ran the Kings Head Hotel in Wellesbourne and later the award-winning Sir Toby's restaurant at 8 Church Street, Stratford (now home to another award-winner, Salt).

Carl Watkins (54599650)
Carl Watkins (54599650)

They retired to Shipston in 1995 where he had time for a wide range of interests. He had a strong faith and was an active, lifelong member of the Royal Ulster Rifles and the Catenians. He edited a Shipston newsletter for a number of years with his friend Bill Hannis.

He also loved nature and spent as much of his life shooting and fishing as, in Mark's words, he could get away with.

Mark recalls: "He was fully involved in all the communities he lived in and he left his mark - a love of laughter, naughtiness, food and drink - wherever he went.

"A kind man, he was always interested in others (much to his wife and sons’ distraction at times). He was always ready with a ‘Hello, how are you?’ More often than not this was followed by ‘And would you like a drink?’

"In 2017 Joanna died of dementia and Carl felt it his duty to continue a full life, enjoying himself wherever possible.

"His hospitality was as well known and well loved as he was himself."

He was cooking up to the day he died.

Mark said: "Seville oranges and sugar, ready for this year's marmalade, were found on his kitchen work counter. His body had given up but his spirit hadn't."

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