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'Giant of the Wellington community' Sir Des Britten dies after battle with cancer

Well known Wellington restauranteur and media personality Sir Desmond Britten has died after battling cancer. 

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Sir Des ran Wellington’s iconic Coachman restaurant for nearly 30 years. Source: 1 NEWS

Sir Des served as City Missioner from 1994 to 2011, and the mission confirmed today that he died overnight.

Among his many accolades, Sir Des was previously vicar at St Barnabas Church, Roseneath. He ran the Wellington Coachman Restaurant for 28 years, was a columnist for The Dominion Post for 14 years, a television chef and radio host, and was author of several cookbooks.

“Sir Des (also known as Father Des) was an iconic Wellington trailblazer," Current City Missioner Murray Edridge said.

He said Sir Des "was well known for bringing his own unique flair and flavour, vibrancy and energy to the role. He was a well-known Wellington figure, with a flamboyant personality".

In 2011 Sir Des received a Knighthood for services to the community, was appointed as a Canon Emeritus in the Diocese of Wellington as well as being named Wellingtonian of the Year.

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It’s the former Wellington City Missioner’s years of helping the community that are being remembered most fondly. Source: 1 NEWS

“His love for Wellington started right back from when he used to run the Wellington Coachman Restaurant and bring in warm meals on the weekend to feed those in need," says Mr Edridge. 

“He was immensely passionate about helping those in need, and has laid down a legacy that he can be proud of. May he rest in peace knowing that his legacy will be remembered and continued.” 

In a statement today Wellington Mayor Andy Foster paid tribute to Sir Des.

“Sir Des was a giant of the Wellington community and his passing leaves a huge gap in our city. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this very sad time," Mr Foster said.

“Sir Des was well known as a local restaurateur, priest and TV chef but his legacy in Wellington will be best remembered through his many years of service as City Missioner. The compassion he showed for others and commitment to helping them was an inspiration to us all.

“In his 17 years leading the Mission it grew in size and importance to our city and demonstrated the care we should take for each other."