Death of Peter Borrow
Members and supporters of the Society will be saddened to hear of the death of our member Peter Borrow from Cardiff. Peter often attended weekend schools in the company of his friend Bob Tilley. Unfortunately Peter had been ill for nearly two years and was unable to attend the last school in February 2020. His wife Hilary has written to let the Society know that Peter died on Saturday 3 October. He was at home with Hilary and not in pain. He died suddenly without being aware what was happening. Hilary has asked those who knew Peter not to be sad. He felt he had had a good inningsand wanted to be at home and in no pain, so got his wish. However it is sad to think that we won't be seeing Peter at future Society events or hearing his searching questions to visiting speakers.
Hilary has kindly sent the text of the eulogy which was delivered at a service for Peter on 15 October so those of us who knew Peter through the Society can know more about his varied and interesting life.
Tribute to Peter Borrow
at his funeral and service of thanksgiving
on Thursday 15 October 2020
Who was Peter?
Frequent descriptions running through the many kind messages I have received since Peter died include:-
A true gentleman
A man of principle and integrity
A good story teller
Kind and helpful
Yes, he could be opinionated, especially about politics. His cousin, Doris, told me, "Peter could be difficult!" - she knew him well!
But I would add that he was also gregarious, loyal, thrifty yet generous, honest and trustworthy, and very amusing. Peter enjoyed life to the full and undertook everything with energy and passion. Interests like politics and current affairs, cricket, rugby, opera, studying Latin and Egyptology. However, he couldn't get excited about cars, football, or fishing!
A proud Englishman, Peter was born in 1935, in Carlisle. The much loved second son of Mary and George, Peter had an older brother, Bill, who died in 2014. This left a huge gap for Peter as they had become close in later life.
Sadly, their mother died when Peter was only 11 and Bill 16. It being 1946, their father had to return home from his Civil Service secondment. Tragedy would strike again in Peter's life, but at that time he had many maiden aunts who made it their mission to care for Mary's two boys.
When talking about schooldays, Peter mischievously said he went to "Carlisle Grammar School for Girls ... and Boys Under 8"! Then it was on to Grosvenor College, after which he'd have liked to go to University, but George insisted Peter leave school at 15. His father found him a place as office boy at Cowans Sheldon in Carlisle, a pioneer of modern railways, designing and producing state of the art cranes. Peter served his apprenticeship, completed his education at night school, and became an experienced and respected engineering draughtsman.
During those early years in Carlisle, man and boy, Peter was an enthusiastic member of St Cuthbert's church choir, and a valued performing member of Carlisle Choral Society, with brother, Bill, and his wife, Elizabeth, from whence his love of all things Gilbert & Sullivan stemmed.
Peter's proudest achievement came in August 1959 when, after rigorous training at Officer Cadet School in Aldershot, he gained his commission and became Second Lieutenant Borrow in the Royal Army Service Corps. This was a rare occurrence, indeed, since it was achieved during National Service.
A member of the Liberal Party since he was 15, he joked that he joined as a way of playing table tennis and meeting girls! Yet by the age of 27, he was committed enough to stand as the Liberal candidate for Stanwix ward on Carlisle City Council.
By the time Peter moved south to Manchester in 1965 in search of promotion and better prospects, he'd met and married Delysia Lamb, and they had had two boys, Timothy and Jeremy.
After several failed attempts in Carlisle, Peter was elected to represent Hazel Grove on Stockport Council. Finally, his debating skills could be put to good use!
His life now became even busier, causing him to develop a stomach ulcer from long working hours and late nights in the Council chamber (the cigarettes probably didn't help much, either!). Yet he often told me those years in Bramhall were his happiest and most fulfilling. Peter and Delysia found time for a busy social life, making lifelong friends like Bob and Elaine Tilley, and John and Christine Ashworth. They ran the local scout group, and were actively involved in campaigning and fundraising for the local Liberals.
Peter continued to play cricket locally, and, as if he didn't already have enough to do, became a school governor when, one parents' evening, he discovered that his son's English teacher had no idea what a preposition was!
When he saw the writing on the wall for British engineering, he made the brave decision to change careers to sell life insurance and pensions. Being a wordsmith, he used to enjoy introducing himself to potential clients as, "I'm Borrow ... from Save & Prosper". Not only did he become a top salesman, Peter went on to excel managing the training department at Head Office after another move south, this time to live in Danbury in Essex.
There, sadly, the second tragedy began to unfold when Tim & Jeremy's Mum, Delysia, required urgent brain surgery. Peter always regretted that the last move south, together with her devastating diagnosis, effectively destroyed the happy family unit he and Delysia had lovingly created. Delysia survived for a further ten years, but chose to move back to Bramhall alone to be near her mother. Tim later joined her, and at 19, Jeremy went to work on a kibbutz in Israel.
From Save & Prosper, Peter had been headhunted to senior management at Canada Life's Head Office in Potters Bar, gaining a reputation across the UK, as well as in Dublin and Toronto, as a professional trainer and manager. He was offered branch management, arriving in Cardiff in 1986, later being promoted to Regional Manager of South Wales. Thirty years later, one of his team from Cardiff branch is with us today, such was the friendship that developed between them.
The move to Wales opened a new chapter in Peter's life. His cricket playing days having ended, he joined Radyr Golf Club, always regretting that he'd started playing golf too late. Reducing his handicap became an elusive dream.
Twenty years later, and by then retired, Peter volunteered to take on the role of Secretary of the Men's Veterans. If any of you is wondering how Peter managed to produce match programmes by email so efficiently, that was me!
IT literate, Peter was not!
Having briefly crossed paths with Peter in 1979 at Save & Prosper, I met him again whilst canvassing for the Liberal Party and, in 1987, I joined him in Radyr. A couple of years later, a lady behind us in church said, "What a beautiful voice - have you thought of joining Radyr Parish Music Group?" That lady was, of course, Christine Davies, and, despite Peter protesting that his singing days were over, then began a long and fun association, both of us enjoying the social side as much as performing.
More recently, Peter was proud to have passed the audition to sing with the Welsh National Opera in Beethoven's Ode to Joy. However, when learning of the range he would have to sing, he turned to a fellow bass and complained he had lost his top register and couldn't reach the notes, at which point he was directed to the small print at the bottom of the page ... "wherever possible, second basses should sing an octave lower" - no problem for Peter!
Peter always liked to help people, volunteering with the Citizens' Advice Bureau for 9 years. One day, he came home from walking the dog, and said he hoped I didn't mind, but he'd invited two ladies to come in for a shower! Some of you may have seen the Iranian lady and her 20 year old daughter who spent one cold, wet winter living underneath the footbridge. Peter couldn't bear to think of them cold, homeless and dirty. I was amazed he didn't offer them our spare room!
Peter was an avid collector - of pens, watches, clocks, coins, songs, stories, odd pieces of string ... and people!
When I met anyone new, it wasn't long before I found they had already met or heard of Peter Borrow. Often it was through walking our dogs, frequently it was Peter's singing voice they'd heard, others had witnessed his artful interrogation of speakers at workshops or political meetings. Peter talked to everyone!
We travelled widely, going further afield on each adventure. Peter was delighted to rediscover his teenage friend, Ian Johnstone, in Wellington, New Zealand, and they rekindled a warm and lasting friendship as though they'd never been apart.
Jeremy had returned to Israel, and settled down after meeting Oshrat. When Peter's first grandchild was born, we became annual visitors and, despite the distance, he and his eldest grandson, Tom, formed a very close bond.
Peter wasn't as forthcoming about feelings as men may be today, yet his love for and pride in his sons for their working achievements, and love for his daughters-in-law, Mel and Oshrat, were as deep as any parent. He would have liked to get to know his other grandsons better, Guy and Joel, but he ran out of time, although he knew that Guy has recently started at the Royal Academy of Music in London, playing the violin. Another talented musician in the family!
Peter celebrated more than 50 years of marriage, over 25 years with each wife. Delysia gave him the family he wanted, and Peter gave me an interesting and varied life. Thank you for being a wonderful travelling companion - the inimitable Peter Borrow!