Tributes paid as Ludlow Food Festival chairman dies aged 66

Tributes have been paid to one of the founders of Ludlow Food Festival as organisers say this year's event will be a celebration of his life.

Tributes have been paid to Phil Maile, one of the founders of Ludlow Food Festival, and chairman of the event for 19 years.
Tributes have been paid to Phil Maile, one of the founders of Ludlow Food Festival, and chairman of the event for 19 years.

Phil Maile, 66, was a long-standing chairman of the festival, and one of the original team behind the popular event – which started back in 1995 when it was the first of its kind in the country.

He was involved in a number of major Ludlow events and his efforts to put the town on the map have been described as "impossible to overestimate".

Mr Maile, who died on Monday after a short illness, was taking part in meetings planning this year's festival – which takes place from September 10 to 12 – as recently as last week.

David Chantler, acting chairman of Ludlow Food Festival, said the team behind the festival are committed to making it a "thank you and adieu to our leader".

Mr Maile, who was chairman of the festival for 19 years, was married to Sally, and has two daughters, Claire and Jenny, and a grandson, Reggie.

He had previously been president of Ludlow's Chamber of Commerce, a manager of Rickards Ironmongers, and landlord of the Bull Hotel – two of the landmark features of the fabric of Ludlow.

Mr Chantler said: "Phil had been one of the founders of Ludlow Food Festival going right back to 1995, when it was the first such festival in the country.

"He had remained on the board continuously since and had been chair for over 20 years. Phil can also be credited with starting the Spring Festival, with its emphasis on independent brewers and its roots in his long experience as landlord of The Bull.

"More recently Phil had been manager of Rickards, so had led three of the most iconic features of Ludlow life.

"Through his association with the Italian twinning he also introduced the third food festival event, the Magnalonga based on a similar event in San Pietro, Ludlow's twin town. Incidentally this later spread to Japan, where they always credit Ludlow with inventing it.

"Phil’s effect on Ludlow, the direct boost to its economy through the festival’s events and its fame and place on the food map are impossible to overestimate. And yet Phil was the most reticent of local heroes, quietly getting on with the job, encouraging others and listening to ideas.

"He had the most enormous work ethic and it was a privilege to work alongside him.

"Despite his illness he was still taking briefings from fellow directors and discussing plans for this year's Magnalonga and September Food Festival, as recently as last Friday.

"This year's festival was always going to be special following last year's cancellation due to Covid, but our commitment is to make it even more special as our thank you and adieu to our leader.

"Our thoughts are with Sally, Clare, Jenny, Reggie and all their family."

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