Obituaries: 1950-1959 Leavers

John Alexander (1946-51), 1932-2017

Extracts From A Tribute Read by John Alexander’s Daughter In Law At His FuneralJohn was a good and kind man, an “officer and a gentleman” is the phrase that comes to mind. His School and Army friends remember him for his complete integrity. As an Adjutant working with the Territorial Army he was described as “the most civilised of adjutants, smooth and steady”. For myself, I was always proud to introduce John to any of my friends and …for example… walking around London he would always insist on walking on the kerb side of the pavement. Which I think is what gentlemen used to do!J

ohn’s first love was rowing and the River Thames. At St Pauls School in London,  he is remembered as a remarkable sportsman. He was stroke for the winning crew at Henley Royal Regatta, winning the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup in 1950. And in the subsequent year he stroked the Ist 8 to 8th place in the Tideway Head of the River Race against some of the best adult crews in the country – a remarkable achievement for a schoolboy crew. His friend Tom Knott kindly requested St Pauls to send him the following extract from the Pauline : “The highest praise is due to Alexander, the stroke, Captain and in every way the leader of the crew: throughout the season's racing and training his judgment and rhythm were rarely at fault”.   

Tom himself has the highest praise for John as a captain and leader. Another friend says that John was an exceptional oarsman. He was headstrong, focussed, knew his own mind, and stuck to it. Full of guts and determination, there was no compromise. I would say that this attribute turned out to be a key part of John’s character throughout his life.

John was always fond of Henley. Gavin Sorrel, fellow Old Pauline, oarsman, student at Cambridge and best man at John’s wedding to Jennifer, remembers a lovely day at Henley when John’s father Charles, and another parent took them out to various pubs in Charles’s Aston Martin and a Vintage Raleigh.  No drink driving rules in those days.

His children Mark and Maud have many happy memories of growing up the River Thames at Sunbury.  The family rule in those days was that they had to be able to swim across the river before they were let loose on their own in the family rowing boat Hyacinth– enjoying tremendous freedom to explore – for as John certainly knew, quoting one of his favourite books:  “there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats”.

As well as the Thames, John loved the Norfolk Broads.  Mark recalls a family holiday on the Broads in a boat named Calypso, which had more than its fair share of incidents. On one occasion after a day’s sailing when mooring Calypso to the river bank for the night, the boat started to drift away. John was standing on the focsle and seeing the danger seized a line and bravely made a tremendous jump for the shore - failing to take account of the length of the line, he was brought up short in mid-air between boat & bank - like a cartoon character frozen momentarily in time - before crashing into the water with a huge splash. John dragged himself up the bank – dripping wet -  line still in hand. And to the relief of his on-looking crew, proceeded to roar with laughter.

John loved talking and having long discussions. He was a very clever and knowledgeable man. He enjoyed talking to a wide range of people on many topics. He would have been my “phone a friend” if I was on “Who wants to be a Millionaire”.

Since moving to London 35 years ago, he built up some local friendships and seemed to me to be rather in with the Notting Hill bohemian art set. He was interested in many things. To keep fit he cycled to work every day to the Treasury through four parks – Kensington Gardens & Hyde Park, negotiated Hyde Park corner, and then Green Park, and St James. In retirement, he took a Maths degree and, in his typical way of knowing what he wanted, persuaded Birkbeck College to provide exactly the personally customised course that he wanted to study.

John joined the Royal Engineers from school, who sent him to Cambridge where at Jesus College he studied Engineering. The engineer in him came out in many ways….such as in the detailed level of understanding and solutions during the renovation of his house.  Michael, his very experienced builder,  worked closely with John for the last 17 years and says that John’s analysis was in some cases better than his own and he was often right. To quote Michael, he was “scrupulous to details” and “always knew what he wanted”.

With John, conversation was always the order of the day.  He had strong views and could be forthright, but you were always able to say back what you felt. As many have told me, he had great wisdom and patience, and you could talk to him about anything personal.  John was a great reader! - reading lots of books -many at the same time – and covering them with yellow post-it notes to recall key points. Daunts bookshop on Holland Park Road  has lost a very good customer. Memories of many Christmases are of John in our sitting room dishing out books… one year we would all have to read Evelyn Waugh, the next Iris Murdoch ....and so on. This Christmas he bought four copies of HG Wells ‘A Short History of the World’ – one each for his Grandchildren.  

John liked places and particularly London. His wife Jennifer remembers how very much they enjoyed motoring trips in their Morris Traveller to the Hartz mountains on breaks in Germany when posted there in the Army; and driving down to Italy to visit Venice. When he retired from his second career as a government statistician, John did some consultancy work for the Turkish Government and loved his visit to Istanbul.

John loved what London has to offer. He enjoyed music, supporting the Portobello Orchestra and for many years he was a choral singer. He enjoyed the theatre and was a regular supporter of the Tower Theatre Company. He was a friend of the Royal Academy and always went to the Summer Exhibition.  

Family was very important to John. John and Jennifer were married for over 60 years. They met Scottish Dancing at Cambridge where John was a student and Jennifer worked. They lived in many places with John’s Army career, Mark being born in Germany.  Even though they have for many years had separate homes – John in town and Jennifer in the country – they were both prodigious letter writers and continued regularly to meet up at weekends and occasional holidays. 

John took an enormous interest in the lives and interests of his children and grandchildren. He was very proud of Mark and Maud. He always showed a great interest in the companies Mark worked for and the management issues involved. John was particularly interested in Mark’s current role running the Defence Academy at Shrivenham – originally the Royal Military College of Science, where John attended the Technical Command and Staff Course in 1963. He was proud also of his daughter Maud with her incredible skills in green woodwork and furniture making, moving into art and now teaching at art college. 

He enjoyed long discussions with his grandson Jack, also in the engineering field, and there was a deep bond between them. He was proud of Lilly and enjoyed her thoughtful gentleness in their many conversations. His granddaughter Mary stayed with John frequently on her social trips to London – he would buy cupcakes from the Hummingbird Bakery on Portobello Road for her - and more recently he received comfort from her in her capacity as a medical student.  He was delighted that his grandson Henry is studying at Cambridge University and is continuing his sporting tradition – though sadly in football, not in rowing - and that Henry has taken up Scottish dancing as John did. He would love to know that his old dinner jacket and tails - made in 1952 - have been passed on to Henry, fit beautifully and will be worn with fond remembrance.  John said to me recently about his four grandchildren that he could not have asked for more.


John Beveridge (1950-55), 1936 - 2016

John Beveridge, who died recently aged 79, was one of the most successful and distinguished of Pauline oarsmen of his generation.  He was also a successful rugby player for 2 years in the St. Paul's School 1st XV; as well as a first class classics scholar who won a major scholarship in Classics to Jesus College Cambridge.

After Cambridge, rowing for Molesey BC, he won gold and bronze medals at the 1962 Commonwealth Games in Perth Australia.

In the 1950s St Paul's School, as now, had many splendid masters.  Not the least of these was JH Page ("Freddie Page") who was President of the Boat Club.  It was a time when St Paul's rowing was always at or near the top.  Coached by Freddie Page, Beveridge rowed in the St Paul's VIII at Henley Royal Regatta in 1953, 1954 and 1955. The 1953 crew won the Princess Elizabeth Cup; the 1954 and 1955 crews lost only to the eventual winners.

For national service Freddie Page advised Beveridge to apply for the RAF, and arranged that he be posted to RAF Benson where the RAF rowing club was based. In those days successful service sports clubs were regarded as useful for recruiting; and national service men helped in achieving this. Thus it was that Beveridge rowed in excellent RAF crews in the Thames Cup at Henley in 1956 and 1957.

In 1956 Beveridge decided that when he arrived at Cambridge he would read Engineering rather than Classics, and so, with typical determination, during his national service he read on his own to take and pass the 3 science A levels required to allow him to begin reading engineering as soon as he arrived at Jesus College in Michaelmas 1957.

Once up at Jesus Beveridge soon made his mark on the river. He stroked Jesus to the head of the river in the Cambridge May Races and to win the Ladies' Plate at Henley in 1958.  1959 marked his first of 3 appearances at 6 in the Cambridge Boat Race crew, but it was not until his third appearance, as President, accompanied by 2 other Pauline oarsmen that he was successful in defeating Oxford by over 4 lengths.

John Beveridge married Margaret Shelton in 1961 with whom he had four children.Subsequently with his second wife Diana Millett he lived in retirement at Henley where for 7 years he was Hon. Secretary of Leander Club and played a strong part in its re-development, helping it to become the most successful sports club in any sport in the world.
John Beveridge.  Born 22nd September 1936, died 12th April 2016; is survived by his wife Diana, and 4 children, Fiona, Rachel, Justin, and Hallam. 

Written by: Douglas Calder (OP: 1952-57)


Christopher N J Cotton (1950 – 1955), 1937-2017

Chris was born in Birmingham in 1937. His mother was a Londoner, his father Freddie a geography teacher came from Derbyshire. In 1950 Freddie was appointed Head of a school in Staines and the family moved south. Chris won a place at St. Paul’s and so began an exciting and stimulating time for him, travelling daily across London. He became a scholar always treasuring his silver fish. He especially enjoyed the school’s music, theatre and debating society, playing the violin in the orchestra and taking an active role in the Scouts.

University and engineering beckoned ; having won an exhibition to Imperial College he turned down a place at Cambridge. After gaining full membership of the Institution of Civil Engineers his uncle, already a leading water engineer, encouraged him to specialise so he returned to Imperial College to study Hydrology. For the first time River Authorities had to appoint hydrologists, so Chris took up his new role in Kent in 1963.

For the next 20 years he masterminded demand forecasting, tidal and river floods and defences, advising farmers and industries and predicting the need for new reservoirs. With larger Water Authorities being planned he trained in management techniques, becoming the Assistant Director of Resource Planning at the newly created Southern Water authority, covering Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. His experience and temperament made him the ideal person to guide his enthusiastic young staff. 

For the final 15 years of his working life he became an independent Water Consultant, working in Thailand, Burma, China, Cyprus and Samoa, all wonderful experiences living among and learning from other peoples and cultures.

Throughout his life he took great interest in community matters, chairing the local National Trust committee for 20 years . He found an outlet for his love of history and old buildings by guiding at Lancing Chapel and leading a NADFAS team recording the local parish church. Chris never stopped solving practical or cerebral problems. He built a swimming pool with a spade, giving 30 years of joy to his family. He loved caravanning, enjoying an annual reunion with O.P s  RJ Winkworth and L. Webber. He especially valued joining the Luncheon for the Oldest Leavers at school a couple of years ago. He constantly reminded one of how proud he was to be an O.P. He played golf all his life and took up skiing seriously in middle age; he enjoyed tennis ( on his own court) and dabbled in yoga. He gardened passionately, controlling the vegetable patch as his own.

Only in his last year were his activities reduced as he succumbed to Pulmonary Thrombosis. He remained brave and philosophical, savouring every moment with his family and friends. The Macmillan team helped him to remain at home where he passed away peacefully on 22nd March, surrounded by his wife Heather ( married 57years), daughters Alison and Sarah and son Christian. He leaves six grandchildren.

Written by: Heather Cotton, wife


William B (Bruce) G Hopkins (1948-51), 1934 – 2016

Born in Ealing in 1934 my father was raised in Kingsbury, North London along with his elder sister Dera who survives him.  At the start of the Second World War he was evacuated to Family away from London, but due to illness of those looking after him he returned to the family home in Kingsbury in 1940.  As he said himself he returned “just in time for the Blitz”, but there is no doubt that period influenced his future career path. As a 6-year-old boy he spoke of watching the Few who fought the Battle of Britain spiralling in dogfights and contrails overhead, and he dreamt of being a fighter pilot one day.

Educated at St Paul’s School for Boys where gained his School Certificate, his passion as a lad was swimming where he excelled.  His circle of friends centred on the Kingsbury Baths, friendships that he renewed only a few years ago with a reunion at the family house here in North Walsham.

In February 1952 (before his 18th birthday) he started on the path he had dreamt of, and entered the Royal Air Force for officer and flying training, receiving his Commission and earning his Wings in March 1953. From then on he realised his dream, achieving combat ready status on the Venom and serving on that, and other fighter aircraft, in Germany and the UK through the 50s. This dashing young fighter pilot then met my mother during an operational deployment to Cyprus, swept her off her feet and they married in 1959. And they were to be a great Team during the rest of his career.

In the early 60s he was assigned to the Air Fighter Development Squadron just up the road from here at RAF Coltishall, and he was closely involved in the evaluation and introduction into service of the Lightning, the first single-seat high-performance, supersonic, radar-equipped fighter to enter service in the RAF.  In 1967 we moved as a family to the USA where my brother was born.  This time he was again at the leading edge of the introduction into service of a new aircraft, the McDonnell Douglas Phantom F4.  For 2 years he flew with the US Navy in St Louis, Missouri conducting experimental and production test flying on both US and British aircraft.

In 1972 he was given command of 23 Fighter Squadron equipped with the Lightning Mk6, the final development of an aircraft he had helped bring into Service and then at the forefront of the Cold War flying Quick Reaction Alert from RAF Leuchars in Scotland – fighters ready at 2 minutes notice to intercept probing Soviet bombers. He led the Squadron for 3 years and this was truly the pinnacle of his operational career as a fighter pilot; he was recognised by the award of the Air Force Cross for his command and leadership skills, which was bestowed on him by HM The Queen.  He then commanded RAF Wattisham in Suffolk for 2 years at the end of the 1970s and the picture of him in your Order of Service was taken in 1978 as he assumed command of that station.  Again this was a unit at the forefront of the Cold War, with 2 squadrons flying the Phantom F4 on Quick Reaction Alert.  I suspect he saw this as the crowning moment in his career, having achieved far more than he had hoped for as a cadet in 1952.

After a few more staff tours, one at the Supreme Headquarters in Belgium, he elected to leave the Service in 1986.  He was never prepared to play the political games needed to achieve the very highest ranks in the Service – he merely believed in being the best you could possibly be professionally in your chosen walk of life.  He had served in uniform for 34 years, made a great many friends, flown over 3800 flying hours on 16 different types of aircraft (mostly fighters) and had inspired another little boy (me) as to his future career.  Huge achievement and a strong, but not overbearing, sense of duty characterised his RAF service, and I know he was immensely proud of what he had achieved. These traits were to be evident too in his retirement, but what did others think of him?  An Army Major General for whom he worked in Belgium wrote recently “I had a great respect for Bruce’s professionalism, and also his light and sympathetic touch, which made him such a valuable colleague”.

Life after the RAF was 7 years in Kent working for GEC Avionics in Rochester in Business Development, living in Maidstone. But just as he was turning 60 he decided to retire to Norfolk for good.  

Unwilling to just relax his sense of duty came to the fore again - he wanted to give something back having considered himself very fortunate in his own life. So for his first 5 years of ‘relaxation’ he was Secretary (a voluntary post 3 mornings a week) of the Norfolk Branch of SSAFA, the oldest of the Armed Forces Charities that provide welfare to those in need, and he played golf for the other 2 mornings.  From 1999-2013 he was the Secretary and Welfare Officer for the North Walsham Branch of RAFA (the Royal Air Force Association), another charitable organization delivering welfare to those in need. He was on the Committee and Captain for 1 year of the Veterans Section of the Royal Cromer Golf Club.  He was on the Committee and Chairman for a period of the North Walsham Community Centre. And last, but not least, he was Chairman of the Aylsham Bridge Club.  Golf and Bridge were his passions, but he was prepared to give back in amongst those and not just enjoy.

Again I turn to comments made in notes of sympathy to my mother: A truly charming gentlemen, modest though of such achievement. The Section owed a lot to Bruce for taking up the reins so quickly (after the next Captain became unwell) and without any fuss. That was typical of his attitude in that he would never let anyone down. He worked so hard for RAFA and helped so many people during difficult times. The Bridge Clubs at Aylsham, North Walsham, and Hoveton were so appreciative of his skill and gentlemanly manner. One remarked that he was the most intelligent, distinguished Chairman Aylsham had ever had.

He was a determined man in anything he did and would not quit easily.  On a family holiday in Western France in the early 80s he bought a windsurf board. For one day he relentlessly tried to get sailing without success and at the end his hands were rubbed raw.  The next day he was back at it, determined to succeed but this time sporting a pair of pink marigolds to protect his hands – ingenious and a style all of his own. On a family holiday in Menorca we all went donkey riding as a big group.  My mother had great difficulty getting on her mount to much hilarity of all including the Spanish owner. My father was not going to make such a fool of himself and took a run-up, mounting his ride in one movement in the style of Audey Murphy.  The donkey looked most surprised!

What of the family man?  He would say that he never really enjoyed his own childhood, and his mother was very ill for a lot of it. But he loved his subsequent family life and relished large gatherings, particularly with the Grandchildren. Although not necessarily a demonstrative person, he was proud and loving of his family, particularly my mother.  He would often remark at family get-togethers, much to the annoyance of my mother “I wonder what the poor people are doing”.  This was not a comment on the poor and possessions, but merely that he felt rich and lucky in life.

He was a kind man but he believed in children achieving success through their own abilities and not through being given a bye in life. Indeed, I remember as a 12-year-old playing squash with him – he never let me win unless I deserved it.  Wind on 40 years and on their Golden Wedding Anniversary family week in Spain he played snooker throughout the week to win with his grandson Alexander – Alex did triumph eventually though. 

In his last few years he was troubled by health issues, which no doubt frustrated an ex-fighter pilot who was used to being in control.  In particular, he suffered for 7 years with trigeminal neuralgia, which is a most painful condition, and arthritis of the spine in the latter few years.  Throughout, such was the man that he remained stoical and uncomplaining to the end.

So in sum his was a life of success and achievement. He was a determined gentleman with a sense of duty and a desire to give something back, but also a loving and kind, husband, father and grandfather.

Gone now and greatly missed.


The Very Reverend Dr Robert Jeffery (1948-53), 1935-2016

Obituary by Canon Dr Daniel O’Connor (2017) – friends with Bob Jeffery since their ordination in the Durham Diocese in the 1950s

Preparations for an event as significant as a Lambeth Conference are a complex affair needing much of the preceding decade to put together. In the case of the 1968 conference, however, the saintly and scholarly Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, his mind on higher things, had forgotten that it was coming up. It was only when the secretary of the Church’s Missionary and Ecumenical Council, the gifted but under-acknowledged David Paton reminded the Archbishop, that. with less than three years to go, things began to happen. The first of these was that Paton turned to his new assistant secretary, Bob Jeffery, fresh from his second curacy, to start work on the agenda. To Bob, that was “a magic day” for a young man, to be given such responsibility – including in time the preparation of the 38 sub-group themes to which the Lambeth fathers would turn their attention.

The Very Reverend Robert Martin Colquhoun Jeffery was born at Uxbridge on 30th April 1935, son of Norman and Gwennyth Jeffery. His father worked in the Inland Revenue and was a leader in the Scout Movement. Bob attended the Prebendal School, Chichester (where George Bell confirmed him), then St Paul’s School, Kensington (where the chaplain, Christopher Heath, sowed early seeds regarding ordination). After National Service in the R.A.F., he studied for a BD and the AKC qualification at King’s College, London, with a final year’s preparation for ordination at St Boniface College, Warminster.

Jeffery was ordained deacon at Durham in 1959, priest in 1960, served his title in Sunderland and went to a second curacy with Heath, now at Barnes. At this time he became an associate of the Society of St John the Evangelist, the ‘Cowley Fathers’, supporting their work in UK and the USA thereafter. In 1964, he was appointed assistant to David Paton at ‘M.E.C.C.A.’ as it was then known, and was soon plunged into his work for Lambeth 1968. Ruth Tinling was a colleague on the Council staff – they married in 1968. Subsequently, he was Secretary for Mission and Unity at the British Council of Churches. These two appointments early in his career brought many opportunities to think boldly, write widely, and, more significantly, broadened his knowledge of the churches in Britain, and their leading personalities. This last was a particular gift, so that over time he became known, not least to senior church appointments secretaries, as a master of the grapevine, shrewd and unsentimental in his judgement.

After seven years as Vicar of St Andrew’s, Headington, Oxford, and father now of four children, he was appointed by the radical, Kenneth Skelton, Bishop of Lichfield as his Diocesan Missioner. He went on from that to be one of Skelton’s archdeacons (of Salop). Throughout these two jobs, he was also Vicar of Tong in Shropshire, this leading later to his wonderfully readable and often hilarious Discovering Tong (2007). From 1987 to 1996, Jeffery was Dean of Worcester. The cathedral had already entered on a major restoration programme costing many millions, and Jeffery, working with the canons of the chapter, stonemasons and fundraising laity, saw this through. Despite the demands of the restoration, he found time to publish in 1994 Anima Christi: Reflections on Praying with Christ. A deep shadow fell over his last year at Worcester with the sudden death of Ruth. He was fortunate to be able to move to be Sub-Dean and Canon of Christ Church, Oxford, a post that suited him well and helped him, if anything could, in his loss. At Christ Church, he was a wise but lively guardian of the cathedral’s liturgy, also of the high table’s menu, and himself a generous entertainer. No one better informed, he enjoyed identifying candidates for Christ Church’s many parishes and arranging the clergy’s annual summer school. At this time, in 1999, he was awarded a DD by the University of Birmingham. His appointments, to Worcester then Oxford, and a sabbatical tour of Anglican Communion cathedrals, equipped him for his popular training sessions (with John Rogan) for English cathedral staff.

On retirement in 2002, Bob stayed in Oxford, where he developed a particular and unstintingly caring ministry, to the elderly and their families. He was also warmly hospitable, loving to cook for his many guests and to share his incomparable knowledge of the Church of England. This last made him a wonderful conversationalist, watchful over movements in the Church, with a keen eye for nonsense, and for character. He also completed a new translation of The Imitation of Christ (Penguin 2013), wrote innumerable fine obituaries for leading newspapers, and, so long as his own health allowed, went off to preach at funerals and festivities throughout the country and to visit his exceptionally wide circle of friends.

Bob Jeffery was a model Anglican clergyman, with a pastoral heart, an ever-developing spirituality, a broad and liberal theology, and gifts as both preacher and writer – never letting these obstruct his parental concerns, for he was a loving and proud father to his gifted family, Graham, Hilary, Philippa and Charlie, and their children. He will be sorely missed by them and by his many friends.



Peter A Mawer (1954-57), 1941 - 2016

Peter Alexander Mawer was born in Putney on the 19 April 1941 and lived there for most of his life. He attended Willington School in Putney and in later years became a governor of the school.  He went to St Paul's in 1954 and departed three years later to attend the College of Estate Management in Kensington to qualify as a Chartered Auctioneer, Estate Agent and subsequently as a Chartered Surveyor.  He then joined his lifelong friend and fellow OP David Cons in the Estates Department of the Legal and General Assurance Society in Aldwych and then the City.  

He moved on in the mid-sixties to Montague Evans to do valuation and professional work where he became an Associate partner.  Peter’s father was an Estate Agent in Putney and when he died suddenly in 1980, Peter left Montague Evans to take over his late father’s practice.

Peter was a rower at school and joined Vesta Rowing Club in 1959 whose boathouse is on Putney Embankment. He subsequently became a Life Vice President.  For a number of years he was an official at the annual Head of the River regatta.

Peter married Lesley and whilst Peter had no children, Lesley had a son and daughter and grandchildren who bought love and laughter into his life and home.

Peter’s great interests were in music particularly Jazz and the Arts.  He had a wide circle of friends including a number from School and was an authority on theatre, ballet and films.  He enjoyed his life and walked the towpath from his home most days, as well as practicing Pilates and yoga.  Peter and Lesley also gave wonderful parties at their house to watch the start of the Oxford and Cambridge University Boat Race each year.

He was diagnosed with Lymphoma cancer last July and after several months of painful treatment, he died peacefully earlier this year.  

He will be sadly missed by Lesley, his step children and his many friends.

Peter Westbury (1951-56), 1938 – 2015

After an adventurous life lived to the full, Peter died quietly in hospital on 7th December 2015. Born in Roehampton in 1938, Peter was evacuated with his sister Anne to a farm in Lancashire for the duration of the war, before returning to his parents’ home. While on the farm Peter learned to drive at the age of seven. His father Brian was a director of a family business importing cane and rattan products.  

At St. Paul’s Peter coxed the Colts V111 before concentrating on achieving individual success as a sculler. He was also a keen member of Troop 1 in the Scouts and continued with scouting as an ASM after leaving school. At a summer camp in Cornwall, he calmly killed a rabbit with his bare hands, then skinned and cooked it for supper-a true backwoodsman. He became a good friend of RLS Bennett and his wife Frances, accompanying them on organised trips abroad, and the friendship endured for many years. 

Peter read Mechanical Engineering at the Northampton Institute in the University of London. Although he did not complete his degree course, due to his father’s death and the need to become involved in the family business, Peter was always proud to call himself an engineer. Having bought a large house in the Surrey Hills, he married his first wife Sue and had two daughters, Nicola and Louise. Both Peter and Sue enjoyed recreational flying and both obtained their private pilots licences, but Peter’s main passion in the 1960s was motor sport. 

In 1963 Peter made his name by winning the British Hill Climb Championship in a car which he had designed and built at home. The next year he was loaned the unique Ferguson-Climax P99 and won the Championship again. He went on to further racing success in Formula 3 and then Formula 2. He even finished 9th in his only F1 race, the 1969 German Grand Prix. Further details of his racing career can be read on the BRDC website. What it does not mention is that Peter proudly wore the hat band from his old school boater stuck round his crash helmet. He might have had even more racing success were it not for the time spent developing his Felday Engineering business, initially building 4-wheel drive cars in conjunction with Rob Walker and Tony Rolt, then rebuilding and preparing engines for a list of famous drivers and finally designing a competitive F2 engine from scratch. At Peter’s funeral Derek Bell, who went on to multiple wins in Le Mans and Daytona 24 hours races, acknowledged his great debt to Peter for giving him his first big break and preparing his car immaculately. 

In 1973 Peter retired from racing, closed his business and concentrated on boats and planes. By then his marriage has broken down. In his early 40s Peter embarked on a new career by qualifying as a commercial pilot. He flew for an air taxi company as well as doing two six-month stints in Australia for a survey company. He also flew a private jet for a wealthy individual. 

In the early 1980s he met Jenny and she moved into his Holmbury house with her daughter Claire, and they eventually married 1998. 

Peter, who learned to sail in Salcombe as a child, bought his first yacht jointly with Sir George Martin. Another yacht was bought later for chartering out in Turkey. In 1989 Peter and Jenny sailed their 50’ catamaran Star Trek to Turkey and then in 1995 across the Atlantic and spent the next ten years sailing around the Caribbean between December and April. 

In 2006 they bought a new family home in Tobago, selling their house in Holmbury and purchasing a smaller house in Dorking for use on their visits back to the UK, often timed to coincide with Silverstone and Goodwood. In Tobago Peter started another business, buying several rental villas. 

Peter enjoyed major projects in which he could use his engineering skills, such as constructing a tennis court in his steeply sloping Surrey garden and building an infinity pool at his house in Tobago and was never happier than when he was in his comprehensive workshop. He also had a mischievous streak. When on holiday in Scotland at the age of 15 and still quite small, he was spotted bowling along a country road in his father’s 2.5 litre Riley RM. By the time the shocked policeman had turned round, Peter had stopped and changed seats with his mother. When coxing at school he tried depth charging other crews with Tizer bottles filled with water and calcium carbide. Years later when in Houston, Texas on a flying course, he and a friend tested the shock load capability of a glass fronted hotel elevator by jumping up and down in unison. Not surprisingly, it came to a grinding halt midway between floors in full view of the restaurant.  

Peter loved to socialise in pubs and characteristically provided in his will for a big party in his old ‘local’ for all his former drinking companions. Peter held strong opinions and did not suffer fools gladly, but he was charismatic and exciting, interesting and interested to the end and his friends and family miss him greatly.

Written by: John Holder (1955-60) with contributions from Nick Campling (1950-54), Paul Boon (1951-56) and Jenny Westbury.

Michael L Wood (1949-53), 1936 – 2016

Michael was born to Joseph Lawrence & Phyllis Wood in Streatham 9.4.36. After a period at boarding school in Somerset, Michael spent three years at St Pauls and was happiest indulging in his passion for sport and in particular cricket. After completing his National Service, Michael began his working career with the National Bank of India where joined the Eastern Staff for which a posting to then Rhodesia awaited him. The posting was never fulfilled and Michael decided his future lay with the National Provincial Bank, which later became the National Westminster Bank.

He spent several years in branch banking in and around the City. On one occasion, when working at the Oxford St branch, he confronted and pursued a man trying to extort money from the cashier with what turned out later to be a fake bomb.  The judge commended Michael for his bravery.  

Michael also spent a number of happy years as a schools’ liaison officer for the bank targeting the next generation of bankers.  During this time he was instrumental in starting up the schools under-19 rugby tournament at Twickenham.  This was a perfect match for Michael, combining his passion for sport with his professional career.

Married to Liz in 1962, they settled in Chelmsford in Essex to raise a family.  Three children followed, Nicola, Amanda and Matthew and in time five grandchildren.  In retirement Michael and Liz settled in Danbury to share their passion for gardening and golf.

Michael was always one to share his time and knowledge. As a coach at Chelmsford Rugby Club, as part of the NatWest caravan club both as a caravaner and Chairman of the Club. Latterly as Vice Chairman of Danbury Parish Council and an active member of the Danbury U3A. Always active, always supportive and always with a smile.  He is very much missed.

Address: Lonsdale Road, Barnes, London SW13 9JT • Tel: 020 8746 5390 • Email: opcadmin@stpaulsschool.org.uk