One of the world’s leading classic rose growers, Peter Beales, has died aged 76.

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The Norfolk rose specialist won a total of 19 gold medals at the Chelsea Flower Show, and was given the Royal Horticultural Society’s top award.

He started the rose business, which is now based at Attleborough, exported around the world.

In 2003, he was awarded the Victoria Medal of Honour by the RHS in recognition of his success as a rose grower and also promoting gardening.

Mr Beales had started Peter Beales Roses on a one and a half acre site at Swardeston, near Norwich, with his wife Joan.

An announcement on the firm’s website, said: “With deep sadness, we regret to inform you that Peter died in the afternoon of Saturday January 26.”

He started the business at Swardeston in 1968 and was initially raising bedding plants before the rose breeding programme was started.

Within three years of starting, Peter Beales Roses received a silver medal at the Royal National Rose Society’s autumn show at Westminster before collecting the gold medal two years later.

In the late 1980s, the nursery moved to Attleborough after outgrowing the Intwood Nursery.

Before starting the firm, Mr Beales completed two years’ National Service with the army and trained as a nurseryman at LeGrice Nurseries in North Walsham before obtaining a post as a nursery manager in Surrey.

He met his future wife, who died last September, while he was completing National Service and the couple married after a six year courtship and moved from Surrey to Norfolk.

While he was the public face of the company, his wife played a full part in the business and typed the manuscripts of his authoritative books.

Mr Beales, who had written his autobiography, Rose Petals and Muddy Footprints, published in 2008, had kept busy right up until his death both as the chairman and also a well-known lecturer. He lectured around the world including Japan, America, France, Bermuda and Germany.

Mr and Mrs Beales, who were married for 51 years, have a son Richard, who is the firm’s managing director, daughter Amanda, and four grandchildren.

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