A RESPECTED businessman who ran one of Bicester's most popular stores has died, aged 84.

Brian Penhallow worked at The Handy Stores in Sheep Street for 45 years, spending several decades as co-manager alongside his wife Jean.

He threw himself into the community after moving to the town in the 1950s and served as president of both the Round Table and Rotary Club.

Brian Penhallow was born on January 15, 1935, in Essex and was an only child to parents Len and Ethel.

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He came to Oxfordshire in 1953 to complete his national service at RAF Bicester and met Jean Cherry one year later.

The couple married in 1956, before moving into a house on Blake Road.

They soon moved to Cedar Drive and Mr Penhallow started working at The Handy Stores, which was run by his wife's parents, Grace and William.

His first role at the Sheep Street store was driving a mobile shop van around the villages to take everyday products to rural residents.

After a few years, they took over the management of Handy Stores, meaning Mr Penhallow would often work six days a week.

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The couple's children, Jane, Miles and Lucy, were born in 1960, 1962 and 1968 respectively and all grew up in Oxfordshire.

Miles eventually joined the family business, as did Mr Penhallow's nephew, Richard Cherry.

The Handy Stores remained successful and gained a reputation for boasting everything Bicester residents could possibly need, from toys to shoes to electricals.

Mr Penhallow helped form Bicester Round Table in the early 1960s and was the branch's last surviving founder.

The Round Table raises funds by holding events throughout the year and Mr Penhallow served as both chairman and president.

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He would help out at everything from carnivals to fireworks shows, while he regularly joined collections for the not-for-profit organisation's Christmas float.

When he was not running Handy Stores or serving as chairman or president of the Round Table, Mr Penhallow somehow found time to serve as chairman of Bicester Rotary Club.

He also had spells as president and chairman of Bicester 41 Club, which was traditionally for people who had left the Round Table.

In 1976, the family moved to Stoke Lyne, a village about four miles north of Bicester.

Mr Penhallow continued to manage the store and take part in a range of community activities, which increased as he settled into the village.

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He became involved with the church and was a longstanding treasurer, only stepping down earlier this year.

Despite his busy life, Mr Penhallow found plenty of hobbies to keep him occupied in his spare time.

He stayed active by playing golf and tennis and developed a love of cooking in later life.

Him and Jean also travelled extensively and were particularly fond of Devon and Cornwall.

This complemented his love of meeting new people and he was known as a 'true gentleman', treating everyone with the same courtesy and respect.

The Handy Stores closed in 2001 but Mr Penhallow retained a strong interest in the community.

He continued to travel after Jean's death in 2014 and became an active member of Bicester Probus Club, a community of retired and semi-retired professional and business people.

Mr Penhallow died on June 29 in Sobell House Hospice, following a short illness.

He is survived by his three children, eight grandchildren and sister-in-law Patricia Cherry.

His funeral takes place at midday on Friday July 19 at St. Peter’s Church, Stoke Lyne - the day of his and Jean's 63rd wedding anniversary.

Any donations will be given to Sobell House.