If Uppingham were a kingdom surely there is one man who would have deserved recognition as royalty. Major employer, property owner, international businessman, leather goods manufacturer, sports club and youth champion, community benefactor, hotelier par excellence, brewer, restaurant patron, company director extraordinaire and honorary Rotarian Robert Wills, has died. Known to many as Mr Uppingham, his contribution to the history, development and international recognition of Uppingham made him a legendary figure. A remarkable work ethic and a straight talking approach to business earned him respect from business leaders across a wide range of industries. His core business for many years was the production of high quality leather goods at Arnold Wills Ltd.
Robert was the second largest employer in Uppingham. His decision to diversify into the hospitality business was a further stroke of good fortune for Uppingham. The acquisition of Don Paddy’s and subsequent ownership of the old HSBC bank building gained him a foothold in the market place.
It was a stroke of genius and hugely popular when Robert later acquired the rather run down Falcon Hotel. It was desperately in need of investment and a quality refit. A top to bottom quality physical restoration of the building has resulted in a vibrant community hub and a new heart for the town centre. Robert’s subsequent acquisition of The Vaults pub completed a move to protect and preserve quality in Uppingham’s primary physical asset, the Market Place.
Robert was the founding Chair of the Uppingham First Community Partnership, a staunch supporter of the Uppingham Business Forum and provided a first class venue for the quarterly public meetings of the Uppingham Neighbourhood Forum from its inception. He was the driving force behind preserving a quality high street in Uppingham and a recipient of a Biz Club Annual Award for his work.
Uppingham and Rutland have lost a great community champion. The community’s condolences to Carol Wills and her children; they have every reason to be proud of their family contribution to the town’s heritage. May Robert rest in peace.