A POPULAR businessman who owned a leading baby and children's mattress firm has died, aged 63.

Peter Cunliffe, who lived in Hoddlesden and owned Babywise, had been diagnosed with leukaemia just four months ago and died at home with friends and family by his side.

Mr Cunliffe, of Alpine Close, leaves behind his wife, Kathy, 54, and children Nicholas, Heather, Alexander and Arron.

Mrs Cunliffe, who ran the family business with him, said: “He was always happy and was never one to hold a grudge. He lived his life through the children and anything he wanted to do he would include them. He was a really good boss and always gave people a second chance.”

Mr Cunliffe was born in Blackburn and grew up in Trinity Street and Cherry Crescent in Oswaldtwistle, where he went to Rhyddings High School.

A keen Blackburn Rovers fan, he went on to work as a chef at the De Tabley Arms in Ribchester and also worked at the Dunkenhalgh in Clayton-le-Moors.

He moved to Hamilton Street in Blackburn and married Janice, setting up as an ice cream man, before buying the popular Milk Bar in Market Street, Darwen, about 40 years ago. It was while there he met his second wife, Kathy, and after three years they sold the Milk Bar.

Mr Cunliffe then went to work as a car salesman. It was while working at Lang’s, Blackburn, that he first acquired Babywise.

The shop then grew to a small empire, with outlets in Darwen, Accrington and Burnley.

After Lang’s closed down, Mr Cunliffe and his wife decided to go into making baby mattresses, opening a small factory in the back of their Duckworth Street shop.