Co-founder of Milsom Hotel & Restaurants in Essex and Suffolk dies aged 93

Heather Chambers. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Heather Chambers. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

A co-founder of Milsom Hotel & Restaurants, which includes Le Talbooth at Dedham and Kesgrave Hall, near Ipswich, has died at the age of 93.

Heather Chambers started the business together with her brother, Gerald Milson, who died in 2005, and their parents, Arthur and Dorothy, at Le Talbooth in Dedham ? then a tea room ? in 1952.

In the early days she was the only full-time member of staff and lived in the property with an elderly aunt who acted as a chaperone, it not then being thought fitting for a women of 27 to be running a business on her own.

Paul Milsom, Gerald’s son who is now managing director of the family business, said: “It was a shock to them all when my father announced that he had given up his job and would now be staying to run Le Talbooth with Heather. She was undoubtedly pleased that she would now get some help, but the other half of her knew that she would soon be taking instructions from her bossy younger brother!”

In 1956 she married and shortly afterwards left the business to open a hotel in Clare with her husband. After she divorced in 1966 and that business was sold she returned to Dedham to help her parents who by then were running the Dedham Vale Hotel (now milsoms).

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Gerald was in sole charge of Le Talbooth, having acquired the restaurant from his parents in the early 1960s, and he subsequently bought Maison Talbooth, also in Dedham, in 1969 and The Pier at Harwich in 1978. Kesgrave Hall became part of the business in 2007.

When her parents retired in 1981 Heather also decided to call it a day and moved to a cottage opposite Le Talbooth, although she continued to help out at the Terrace Restaurant at the Dedham Vale Hotel until it was sold in 1994.

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Paul Milsom added: “No-one was happier than Heather when the company bought the building back in 2001 and turned it into milsoms. She was immensely proud that the company she helped start all those years ago had developed in the way it has and that it continues to provide so many great times to customers and staff.

“Despite her failing health in recent years, Heather still enjoyed visiting the hotels and restaurants and took a keen interest in the progress of the family business. She will be greatly missed.”

There will be a private cremation followed by a celebration of Heather’s life on Friday, December 29, at 11.30am, at Dedham Church.

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