Peter Francis Skinner Former Master (1957 - 1993)
Peter Skinner, former HCS master, died 22 November2009 in Kendal after a short illness. A memorial servicewas held in Hereford Cathedral.Born near Littleborough, Lancashire, 18 June 1933,Peter was the eldest child of Rev. Frank and EllenSkinner. He was educated at Dalhousie School inScotland, St John’s Leatherhead in Surrey andBrasenose College, Oxford, where he studied Classicsand notably rowed for his college.Peter was appointed to his first teaching post at HCSto teach Latin, with some English, History, Geographyand Scripture just before his twenty-fourth birthdayand quickly proved to be an excellent, skilled anddedicated teacher. He had the magic combination offriendliness and authority. He became master in chargeof School House in the early sixties replacing JohnBrookes who had recently married.When he first came to Hereford, Peter not only had athick mop of dark curly hair but also earned the nickname ‘Flash’ as he loved cars and motorbikes – whichwere admired by the pupils, especially the HarleyDavison. Once on board he was gone in a ‘Flash!’ Hismotorbikes parked in the school yard always attractedadmiring glances from his pupils and it is these wheelswhich delivered the necessary goods to the school tuckshop – the Buttery.Peter was also a familiar figure on the banks of theWye whizzing along on his bike, steering with one handand shouting instructions to the rowers through a loudhaler. In later years he would direct from his motorlaunch in his uniform of floppy hat and fleece!Ex-pupils talk fondly of Peter, recounting how hetaught junior Latin by translating Winnie the Pooh, howhe made differences to their lives with hisencouragement, kindness and good humour. Girlsearned the name flower and the boys... were alwaysDear boy! There was never tom-foolery in Peter’slessons. He made lessons fun and everyone liked andrespected him. He helped in many extra-curricularactivities, collecting pupils in the minibus from canoetrips, D of E expeditions, ski trips or patrolling at theschool disco. Peter also ran the Film Society.The Cathedral and Three Choirs festival benefitedfrom Peter’s commitment where he was a bass in thevoluntary choir. Without fuss and often at unsocialhours, he was the man (with his team) who was at thebeck and call of the organising committee to moveanything that needed moving or deal with anycontingency or emergency and undertaking such jobswillingly, working behind the scenes and seeking nothanks. Even after leaving Hereford he returned to helpwith arrangements at Three Choirs Festival.He was a man of action who loved the outdoors, butwas also a very private individual. He was very well read,oved listening to classical music and had a wide generalO b i t u a r i e s45O L D H E R E F O R D I A N S ’ C L U B N E W S L E TT E R 2 0 1 0knowledge. Peter’s eyes were affected after havingGerman measles as a boy and consequently hesuffered with poor eyesight. He even commentedonce, after a rugby match between the staff andschool 1st XV, an annual event in the early days, thathis good catch was due to him hearing the ball comingrather than seeing it!When he retired in 1993, he left Hereford to live inKendal and be nearer his family. Many wondered whathe would do with himself and indeed what HCSwould do without him! However, he zoomed off to hisnew future in style in his new BMW and continued tolive life to the full. He was a keen walker and loved theLake District. He enjoyed a great variety of activities;guide at Sizergh Castle, examiner for the Duke ofEdinburgh Gold Award, gardening at Holehird, wherehe was proudly in charge of compost and even made abrief television appearance whilst working there. Heattended regularly at St George’s Kendal and wasinvolved with creating scenery and props for thepantomimes, still happy as ever to contribute behindthe scenes as he did in numerous school plays.He was also a driver for community transport anddid boat patrol on Windermere – zooming about in aboat and advising lake users through his loud hailer!He had recently completed his Royal YachtingAssociation Safety Boat course. He was always busyand still always giving of his time.He was a modest man, totally selfless, kind, practicaland loyal.Retired Headmaster, Barry Sutton adds:“As a schoolmaster he was amongst the finest I haveknown: he never took on anything that he thought hecould not do justice to and once he had agreed to assumea task I could forget about it, knowing that it would bewell done and in the words of Drake’s prayer ‘thoroughlyfinished.’ His reliability was outstanding and hisstewardship faithful: he ran the Boat Club year in andyear out, sometimes with help, too often without; his tuckshop and later Buttery management was legendary;although the facilities in School House when I came in1975 were definitely below standard it was the house to bein, as was 3Y. [His form] was a relaxed, but well-orderedplace and such was the relationship between Peter and hispupils that a telling off by him, however mild, was worsethan any other in the School, because you felt that youhad let him down.I was privileged to have Peter as a member of staff: hisrequirements were always modest, he made few requestsand no demands, but his service was huge.”Hereford Cathedral School is very grateful to PeterSkinner for leaving a legacy of £10,000 for the benefit ofthe school.