FORMER captain of the England rugby team, Bill Beaumont, was in Wisbech yesterday (Tuesday) to open the new Pike Textiles factory.
It may seem like an unlikely pairing, but Mr Beaumont is also managing director of Bill Beaumont Textiles and uses Pike for the firm’s swatch books and hangers.
He was guest of honour at the special event held in the Sandall Road factory to officially open the new premises. Managing director Jon Allen had previously revealed that a “national hero” would hopefully be performing the official opening but had kept their identity secret.
The move was a “landmark event” for Pike Textiles, who closed their two former premises at North End and Nene Parade.
Mr Allen said: “This will take the traditional craft of pattern book making to an entirely new level.”
Director Sylvia Pike was also recognised and presented with a large bouquet of flowers.
Mr Beaumont spoke to gathered staff and guests – including Wisbech Mayor and Mayoress Jonathan and Susanah Farmer – and said how delighted he was to be there to open the building. His own company is family-founded and run, as is Pike, and he said his son Daniel would shortly be taking over the reins.
The opening was also an opportunity to raise cash for two worthy causes – charity Wooden Spoon and the Fenland District Scouts Wisbech Explorer Unit. Mr Beaumont is honorary director of rugby charity Wooden Spoon, which helps disadvantaged children in the UK.
He brought along three items, which were auctioned off by Ed Blundy from Brown and Co. A signed John Bentley rugby print fetched £200, Mr Beaumont’s personal kit bag from the 2005 Lions Tour went for £250 and a limited edition replica of an old rugby ball, signed by Mr Beaumont, raised £310.
A bottle of champagne was won by Terry Hawkins after he correctly guessed the weight of a basket of mini rugby balls and he requested the bottle be auctioned too, raising an additional £40.
• See above right for a gallery of pictures from the opening.