Champneys owner Dorothy Purdew OBE dies aged 91

Dorothy Purdew OBE, founder and chair of health spa group Champneys, has died at age 91.

Widely regarded as a pioneer of the UK spa industry, over the years, Dorothy Purdew evolved Champneys from weight-loss focused health farms to modern welllness destinations.

Born in Clapham, London, in 1932, she started her first business, WeightGuard, in 1970 with just £60 and opened her first health farm, Frimleys, eight years later.

With her late husband Bob and son Stephen, she went on to buy Henlow Grange. Over the following years, Dorothy and her son Stephen went on to purchase Springs Hydro, Forest Mere and then Champneys Tring.

The Purdew family then created the Champneys group in 2002 with all four of their properties.

In 2008, Purdew was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to the health spa industry and charity in the Queen’s birthday honours list.

In recent years, Dorothy and Stephen purchased Eastwell Manor in Kent in 2016 and Mottram Hall in Cheshire in 2018.

Also in 2018, Champneys opened its first ever “spa on the sea” after announcing an exclusive partnership with Marella Cruises.

Champneys said in a statement, "Dorothy could never believe a girl from a working-class background could become one of the world’s most influential spa operators. Champneys became her life.

"Even into her nineties, she would read the guest feedback every morning, eager to learn of how the business could improve. The Champneys brand is now valued at over £300 million."

Dorothy is survived by her sons Stephen and Simon, her grandchildren James, Daisy, Robert, Raffaella and Barnaby, and her great grandchildren Charlie, Olivia and Henry.

Champneys' statement continued, “Dorothy leaves behind a legacy that will be forever cherished. Her spirit will forever guide us as we strive to uphold her vision and commitment to excellence.

“In her memory, we will continue to honour the remarkable journey of a woman who defied expectations, inspired generations and left an indelible mark on the world of wellness and hospitality.”