Ex-airline pilot Peter still flying high

FORMER Fakenham schoolboy turned Easyjet pilot and business entrepreneur Peter Hogston is flying high with his newest venture - a chic new Norwich restaurant.

FORMER Fakenham schoolboy turned Easyjet pilot and business entrepreneur Peter Hogston is flying high with his newest venture - a chic new Norwich restaurant.

Mr Hogston, a founder member and keen supporter of the rugby club in the town he still regards as home - and where many of his family still live - is launching the venture with business partner Deborah Oades.

Providing another town link, the first and second floors of 18 Bedford Street will feature a permanent gallery of works by Peter's boyhood friend, wildlife photographer Martin Hayward Smith. Martin has gained international acclaim for his work with such distinguished naturalists as Bill Oddie and Sir David Attenborough.

Meanwhile, yet another friend from Fakenham schooldays, Stephen Doughty, is the project's architect.

The restaurant, employing 20 people, represents the fulfilment of a shared dream by Peter and Deborah, who are joint directors of Norfolk-based business development company, Oades Consultancy.

The venture is also a tribute to Peter's parents Les and Anna, who tragically died in a road crash last June.

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“My father had always been a big influence in my life. He always said: 'Whatever you do, do it - and give it your best shot, son.'

“If dad wasn't watching rugby, he was cooking and, throughout my life I always said that if I couldn't fly, I'd be a chef.”

“I knew Debbie had aspirations of opening a hotel on the north Norfolk coast, and at our first meeting after the funeral I asked her what she thought of opening a restaurant-bar as a first step towards realising her dream. She jumped at the chance and 18 Bedford Street was born.”

The ground floor of the £350,000 venture will have a continental café bar atmosphere, opening from 7am for breakfasts, later serving tapas and lunches for up to 150 clients, then transforming into a chic evening bar which will stay open until 2am. Facilities will include Wi-Fi access and a “chill-out” alcove with continental newspapers and magazines.

The first floor will feature a 40-45 cover restaurant for evening dining.

Double doors will open on to an area of decking to cater for up to 30 alfresco diners.

Food will be seasonally sourced and locally produced where possible.

“We want to celebrate Norwich and Norfolk, while at the same time embracing contemporary cosmopolitan culture,” said Peter.

Peter was born into an RAF family, and his parents settled in Fakenham in the early 1970s. He was educated at the town high school and at the Norfolk College of Arts and Technology.

In a colourful career, Peter flew helicopters for the oil industry and for the Sultan of Oman before becoming a passenger jet captain for Go and Easyjet, also working on a variety of business development projects for the low-cost airlines.

When Peter gave up flying, Easyjet wanted him to stay on as a consultant but he declined. “I told them that I felt it was time to fly solo,” he said.

Peter worked with some friends to set up web-based businesses before meeting Deborah - who had just completed a 17-year career with the health service which saw her rise to a directorship on the board of Ipswich Hospital - at a meal to which both were invited to advise a group of hospital consultants.