Renowned Brighton aviation artist dies aged 85

Peter Champion with one of his works depicting the Battle of Britain

Peter Champion with one of his works depicting the Battle of Britain

First published in News by

Tributes have been paid to a renowned Brighton aviation artist whose admirers included Margaret Thatcher.

Peter Champion, who was born and bred in Brighton, produced countless pieces of works which appeared in newspapers and magazines around the world.

He died earlier this month following a short illness aged 85.

His son, Jason, said: “He was a great dad, he was always there to offer advice. We're all a bit in shock at the moment, it hasn't really sunk in.

“He was mad on anything to do with aviation. If you couldn't find him he would always be down at Shoreham Airport drawing the planes.”

Mr Champion was born in 1929 and just 10-years-old at the outbreak of the Second World War.

Fascinated by the fighter planes and bombers soaring overhead, he started to sketch.

After a brief stint in the Navy in his early 20s, he began selling his artwork and soon had customers queuing up for his originals and prints.

He shot to national fame in the early 1980s when his work appeared in national newspapers.

With photographs from the Falklands unable to make it back for the next day's editions, he was tasked with painting the day's events for publication.

At 11am each morning he would be briefed by the Ministry of Defence.

He would then paint the action on a pre-drawn Falklands scene from his Ladies Mile Road, Patcham, home.

After catching the 2.30pm train from Brighton he would be met by representatives from the national newspapers at London Victoria at 4pm.

His paintings would then be the first scenes from the battlefield some 8,000 miles away in the following day's papers.

But it wasn't just war and aeroplanes, Mr Champion appeared in The Argus many times for among other things his paintings of Princess Diana, football matches and birds.

He was also at the devastating scene of the IRA bombing of The Grand hotel in 1984.

His resulting print is one of his most famous.

Jason Champion said: “He lived life to the full and was incredibly active until the end.

“He was always going for walks and to the beach - he would not take no for an answer.

“He loved Brighton and loved Patcham. He lived there all his life.”

He leaves a wife, four sons and five grandchildren.

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