OBITUARY: MBE winner Peter Albertella used to bus villagers into Leighton Buzzard for free

Peter Albertella
Peter Albertella
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A long-time resident of Billington, who was awarded the MBE for services to the community, died on Christmas Eve, aged 83.

Born in 1934, Peter Albertella was evacuated from London to Leighton Buzzard during the war and stayed.

MBE winners Peter Albertella, left, Michael Grant, middle, and Frank Bruno posed for this photo a year ago after Michael became the latest Billington villager to be honoured. Photo by Mike Hewitt

MBE winners Peter Albertella, left, Michael Grant, middle, and Frank Bruno posed for this photo a year ago after Michael became the latest Billington villager to be honoured. Photo by Mike Hewitt

He received his MBE in 2000, and the list of what he did to deserve the accolade was impressive.

For a start, he and his wife Jean fostered about 30 children at various times and several of them are still in touch.

After his National Service in The Royal Engineers, he did a spell volunteering during the Cold War with The Royal Observer Corps, sitting in damp, cold bunkers in case the situation between East and West deteriorated.

Peter was a skilled and competent engineer working on machinery and plant all around Leighton and into North London. His prowess became well known and people brought all their stuff that they could not fix to him for repair.

Often his dining table would have a vacuum cleaner or an electric drill belonging to somebody who had brought it to him to fix.

Peter could not help but help others! He became a member of Leighton Buzzard Lions Club and was to the forefront of their charitable activities in the town.

He served on Billington Parish Council for several years and, being self-employed, was active in the local branch of The Federation of Small Businesses.

Friend and neighbour Dave Edwards, one of two people who nominated Peter for his MBE, said: “Peter and Jean became regular members of the congregation of St Michael and All Angels in Billington and instigated ‘Italia Day’ where he donned a chef’s hat and he and Jean cooked Italian dishes that became an annual fundraiser for the church.

“Peter seemed to like minibuses and over the years owned several. When he discovered that there were several villagers who had no car and that there was no bus to town on a Thursday, took the mornings off work and started a free service of his own!

“Billington village has lost a fond member of its little community.”

Recalling the moment Peter was awarded his MBE, wife Jean added: “He didn’t quite believe it, he was gobsmacked, really chuffed. He did a lot of work in the wider community and was a larger than life character and very hard working.”

Peter is survived by his wife Jean, four children and nine grandchildren.

His funeral will take place at St Michael and All Angels Church in Billington on January 12 at 2pm.