One of Ledbury’s best-known café owners, Pascal Clarenne, was still making his beloved pastries in St Michael’s Hospice, one week before he died, following a brave battle with cancer.

Mr Clarenne died at the hospice on Wednesday, April 7, but his love of making pastries and pleasing others never left him.

His wife, Janie said of his passion and determination: “This showed his huge courage; but his pastry kept him going. It was an absolute passion and he loved it. He had great spirit and just kept fighting.”

In fact, popular Pascal, the former owner of Chez Pascal in New Street, was able to reach a number of life-landmarks after the business closed last summer, including his 60th birthday in January and his 30th wedding anniversary in March, when mussels were on the menu.

And on Valentine’s Day, while he was at home following the first of two stays in the hospice, he was able to make and send out 20 tarts to loyal customers who had missed the special Pascal Clarenne touch.

But sadly, Mr Clarenne was not able to achieve the ambition of returning to his native France for one more visit, despite a crowd-funding campaign which raised £6000.

The Covid crisis and increasingly poor health meant that Mr Clarenne could not travel; but some of the funds were used “to bring France to him”, with a visit from his sister, brother and nephew in August, when there was an easing of Covid restrictions.

Mrs Clarenne said: “We had a really nice week.”

Some of the remaining funds will be used to send half his ashes to Mr Clarenne’s sister at Biarritz in France, while the other half of Mr Clarenne’s ashes will remain in Herefordshire.

Mr Clarenne grew up in Northern France, near the French border, and he trained in patisserie at Charleville-Mézières.

Mr and Mrs Clarenne ran their cafe in Ledbury for a decade, originally running Cafe Sez in the High Street before relocating to the former Malthouse restaurant, renaming it Chez Pascal in 2013. In 2017 they moved again, this time setting up shop in the former Delilah's Cafe in New Street, until the summer of 2020, when Mr Clarenne revealed his battle with metastatic lung cancer.

In recent years Chez Pascal had lent its support to local initiatives including the Big Breakfast, which saw many cafes and restaurants showcase the best of local food and drink.

Announcing the closure of Chez Pascal last August, Mr Pascal said: “We have weathered a few storms over the years and with increasing competition in the town business has been tough.

"This year, with the flooding and the coronavirus it has been a challenge. However, after a recent admission with pneumonia, I have been diagnosed with cancer and we decided to close to concentrate on my treatment. Call it early retirement."

In addition to the untimely death of her husband, Mrs Clarenne has a second storm to weather, because her father, the writer Peter Paterson, died just one day after the death of his son-in-law.

Mrs Clarenne said: “I am having to manage two funerals. It is just devastating; there is no other word for it.

"But I would like to say a special thank you to our dear friend, Caroline from Handley Organics, who has been a huge support throughout Pascal's illness."

Mr Clarenne’s funeral, with family and close friends, will take place at the Forest of Dean Crematorium on April 22.

When Covid restrictions allow, there will be a larger gathering to remember Mr Clarenne’s life, at the Petanque, or French Boules Club in Ross, of which he was a keen member.

A bench in memory of Mr Clarenne will also be based at the club.