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Patrick Sandeman dies in skydiving accident

Patrick Sandeman, one of London’s most respected wine merchants, has been killed in a freak skydiving accident.

‘Great company’: Patrick Sandeman

Sandeman, one half of the multi-award-winning London wine merchants Lea and Sandeman, was an experienced skydiver. He apparently collided with another skydiver 50 feet from the ground, which caused both parachutes to collapse.

Despite the efforts of paramedics he died at the scene, while the other skydiver, a 28-year-old Frenchman who has not yet been named, remains in a serious condition with spinal injuries.

The accident, at Sibson airfield, near Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, happened at 3.30 on Saturday afternoon. It was reported internationally, though only the Daily Telegraph named Sandeman as the victim.

Sandeman, 53, opened his shop in the Fulham Road, Chelsea in 1988 with Charles Lea, and built it into a multi-million pound business of four outlets. Lea & Sandeman won many awards, including Wine Merchant of the Year several times, and three nominations in different categories at the Decanter World Wine Awards Retailer Awards.

He was widely respected and much liked. Jancis Robinson paid tribute to him as ‘one of the most appealing and entertaining characters in the wine business’, and Decanter editor Guy Woodward said he was ‘great company’.

‘He was always out scouting for new wines and producers, refusing to deal merely in the obvious names or be reliant on importers,’ Woodward said.

‘He was hugely well respected – and liked – among the trade. Only last week I was talking to him at a dinner where he was giving his usual, forthright views on the wines we were drinking. He was great company – simply because he cared about and believed in what he did. It’s a terribly sad loss.’

Decanter’s consultant editor Steven Spurrier added, ‘Their four shops are a beacon for wine lovers far and wide, while their suppliers are passionately loyal. Patrick was a true gentleman, a professional to his fingertips, with innate charm and seldom without a smile. At 53, he was in his prime and his death is a very great tragedy’

Sandeman leaves his wife Katie, who also worked for the business, and three grown-up children.

The accident is being investigated by the British Parachuting Association, the sport’s governing body, and the Cambridgeshire Police, a spokesman for UK Parachuting said.

Written by Adam Lechmere

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