Pete was born in Kettering, Northamptonshire, and, after schooling, went on to train as a refractory engineer. He then worked for Gibbons of Dudley as a technical salesman and rose up the ranks to become sales director, remaining in this position until the company was taken over and eventually closed down. He then joined C J Wildbird Foods as sales manager until his retirement.
I first met Pete in 1969 at his home in Shifnal with his wife Jan and daughter Melanie. We started ringing together that autumn, catching 13,500 Swallows in a passage roost in Dawley. He had obtained his ‘A’ ringing permit in 1968 and had a very active ringing career. He was involved with Operation Seafarer, run by the BTO to survey and determine the state of our seabird colonies. This led to several years of seabird ringing on the Treshnish Isles off the west coast of Scotland, of which he used to talk fondly, although the living conditions were grim.
As a hobby he worked for the Extramural Department of Birmingham University, running birding courses, where he recruited many new members for the SOS.
He was very active in many BTO studies, particularly the Sand Martin Enquiry, for which he ringed many thousands of that species.
He became Chairman of the SOS in 1979 and served the Society in this role for 37 years. He guided the Society from being a struggling organization to a very well managed group with its own reserve, Venus Pool, and adequate funds to enable it to continue and expand in the future. On stepping down as Chairman he became President in 2017.
Whilst working for CJ’s he played a major role in helping to research and promote the native Red Mason Bee (Osmia bicornus) as a useful insect that can be kept in domestic gardens and can become a potential major pollinator in commercial orchards. He had a network of friends rearing bees for the project. He also became a very keen moth catcher in his garden, as part of the national monitoring scheme to determine the state of British moths. He discovered several new species for Shropshire.
On hearing of his passing, several ex-colleagues remarked that it had been a privilege to work with Pete. He was great company and his knowledge of birds, and wildlife in general, was extraordinary.
Pete was one of a kind and will be sadly missed by his family and friends.
Vice President, SOS