LEIGH Webb, who died on Christmas Eve, was born in Winchester on June 30 1938. His father Percy owned a butcher’s shop on Andover Road opposite Richardson’s the Chemist and Optician, the daughter Carol became Leigh’s wife. Both their families attended Nethercliffe Prep School. Leigh went on to boarding school in Truro, and was made deputy head boy. He also played rugby and tennis and swam for his school. At Bristol University Leigh studied chemical engineering and gained a second class honours degree and also a subsidiary degree in economics.

The second year of his National Service was spent as a 2nd Lieutenant in Malaya. Having never been out of England this was a great adventure and started his love of travelling.

Leigh worked for Distillers Co. in Tonbridge but was asked to work in their head office in London, an office job which he hated. He applied to work for Esso Fawley so he and the family would be nearer their relations in Winchester. They lived in Lymington which they loved, Leigh doing very well at Esso. His elder brother Keith persuaded Leigh to join his father Percy and uncle Charles at the small poultry business in Winnall as he wanted to start a frozen food business.

Leigh, Carol and family, moved to Shawford where they lived happily for 20 years.

Meanwhile Leigh evolved a means of cooking ‘Old Hens’ which his father specialised in, buying from egg farms locally. Leigh acquired a huge cooker and some ladies to strip the meat and sell on to pie firms. He moved up to Winnall Industrial Estate and after considerable difficulties started to make progress. Even the stock from the cooked birds became transported in a small tanker, purpose built to take the product direct to soup companies.

Broilers, roasting chicken, had now become far more popular and took off in a very big way.

Winnall had expanded to three factories. This was not sufficient, so Leigh acquired an disused creamery in Okeford Fitzpaine, Dorset and built a new factory. Employees were bused in from all over Dorset.

In Lymington another purpose-built factory employed the largest number of people locally. A test kitchen was started and another factory was bought in Corby specifically for delicious new products. A beautiful new factory was built at Halneker near Chichester.

By now they owned nearly 50 farms and a mill was built to supply specific food for all the chickens they were growing or people were growing for them.

A hatchery was needed, but not being an expert himself, he asked Peter Haslam who already supplied Webbs Country Foods from his hatcheries up North, to become partners with him in this concern, just off the M27 near Romsey. Later Webbs acquired a very large factory already processing chicken near Swindon.

During a lot of this time, a small engineering business Leigh had bought and saved from closing one Christmas, supplied machinery.

In the early years Webbs supplied Marks and Spencer, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and others.

But Leigh wasn’t happy running such a large company and having newer supermarkets dictating too much, so he accepted a management buy out.

He then spent over 20 years travelling the world and owned property and a boat in New Zealand where he and Carol spent three or four months each winter and also a house in the South of France, both for about 13 years. Very many friends visited and stayed in both houses and all remain close friends to this day.

Leigh was extremely generous in giving to many charities but kept this very much under the radar.