POPULAR businessman and founder of Setchfields newsagent in Poole, William George Ernest Meads, has died at the age of 93.

Bill was born on May 24, 1925, into a military family at North Camp in Farnborough. His father was a lance sergeant in the Dorset Regiment who was awarded an MBE.

The family moved with Bill’s father’s postings, including a spell in Germany when Bill was three. Bill attended several schools and recounted as a four-year-old when the family was stationed at Portland and saw prisoners chained together working in a quarry cracking huge lumps of Portland stone.

At the age of seven, while stationed in Wareham, his father allowed him to shoot at the rifle range, resting a gun on a sandbag to fire at a target 25 yards away.

During a three-month family holiday in Northern Ireland, Bill gathered pigswill in a cart pulled by a donkey. He always wanted to be active, never happy unless there were adventures on hand.

His father served in Palestine and came back decorated with the rank of regimental sergeant major, which made Bill, his mother, sisters Kathleen and Maureen, and brother George very proud.

Their first non-army home was in Poole, where Bill's first job was in a small grocery shop where he weighed up loose tea and sugar and did deliveries on the shop's bike.

He then became a milkman with a horse and cart, earning £1 10 s a week. The horse was so experienced that he knew all the stops.

At the age of 18 in 1943, Bill joined the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) becoming a driver mechanic, taking engineering courses to add to his pay.

He went to Egypt and Greece and was demobbed as a technical staff sergeant, and was able to use his engineering skills making brackets for ice guards on Sptifire engine air intakes, and wheel flaps for Typhoons and Tornados on his return working for Wallis Tin in Hamworthy.

Bill married Connie Setchfields and they had two children, Terry and Mandy, and after buying a newsagents and hairdressing shop in Poole High Street, the couple worked hard to build up their business until there were five adjoining shops.

Setchfields in Poole High Street became the place to go for toys, greetings cards and books, confectionary and newspapers.

In the early days, Father Christmas used to arrive on Poole Quay on Bill's boat and stop off at Setchfields.

Connie died of cancer in the early 1970s, and Bill continued to work hard, eventually making his children partners in the business.

It was through dialling a wrong telephone number that Bill met Hazel. They chatted and agreed to meet for a blind date, and a year later, in 1976, they were married.

Bill had a good social life, including boating and an honorary life membership of a homemade wine club. He made 1,000 gallons of blackberry wine and was remembered with affection when one lot exploded during fermentation.

He was also chairman of the Bournemouth Video Club in its early years and a member of the Society of Poole Men and enjoyed Beating the Bounds around Poole.

He also used to raise money for the RNLI.

Bill retired in 1978 and moved to Guernsey in 1983.

He generously gave his successful shops, and two flats, to his children, and started making new friends on the island.

Despite failing eyesight and hearing, which caused him much frustration, Bill was at his happiest building or repairing, improving the home or just making life easier for Hazel.

A motorhome later provided many happy holidays and good friends through the Guernsey Camping Club. They attended all the activities, and opened their home for an annual petanque match, which was always very popular.

He became quite a character to the staff, one morning asking for two blondes and a brunette for his breakfast.

As his health deteriorated, Bill moved into Chateau les Tielles care home where he died on August 14, 2018, following a short illness.

His nephew Tim Strong said: "Throughout his life his first priority was always Hazel and she, like his family and many friends, will greatly miss a fine man who was a gentleman to the end."