Peter Francis Skinner Former Master (1957 - 1993)
18/06/2009
Peter Skinner, former HCS master, died 22 November

2009 in Kendal after a short illness. A memorial service

was held in Hereford Cathedral.

Born near Littleborough, Lancashire, 18 June 1933,

Peter was the eldest child of Rev. Frank and Ellen

Skinner. He was educated at Dalhousie School in

Scotland, St John’s Leatherhead in Surrey and

Brasenose College, Oxford, where he studied Classics

and notably rowed for his college.

Peter was appointed to his first teaching post at HCS

to teach Latin, with some English, History, Geography

and Scripture just before his twenty-fourth birthday

and quickly proved to be an excellent, skilled and

dedicated teacher. He had the magic combination of

friendliness and authority. He became master in charge

of School House in the early sixties replacing John

Brookes who had recently married.

When he first came to Hereford, Peter not only had a

thick mop of dark curly hair but also earned the nick

name ‘Flash’ as he loved cars and motorbikes – which

were admired by the pupils, especially the Harley

Davison. Once on board he was gone in a ‘Flash!’ His

motorbikes parked in the school yard always attracted

admiring glances from his pupils and it is these wheels

which delivered the necessary goods to the school tuck

shop – the Buttery.

Peter was also a familiar figure on the banks of the

Wye whizzing along on his bike, steering with one hand

and shouting instructions to the rowers through a loud

haler. In later years he would direct from his motor

launch in his uniform of floppy hat and fleece!

Ex-pupils talk fondly of Peter, recounting how he

taught junior Latin by translating Winnie the Pooh, how

he made differences to their lives with his

encouragement, kindness and good humour. Girls

earned the name flower and the boys... were always

Dear boy! There was never tom-foolery in Peter’s

lessons. He made lessons fun and everyone liked and

respected him. He helped in many extra-curricular

activities, collecting pupils in the minibus from canoe

trips, D of E expeditions, ski trips or patrolling at the

school disco. Peter also ran the Film Society.

The Cathedral and Three Choirs festival benefited

from Peter’s commitment where he was a bass in the

voluntary choir. Without fuss and often at unsocial

hours, he was the man (with his team) who was at the

beck and call of the organising committee to move

anything that needed moving or deal with any

contingency or emergency and undertaking such jobs

willingly, working behind the scenes and seeking no

thanks. Even after leaving Hereford he returned to help

with arrangements at Three Choirs Festival.

He was a man of action who loved the outdoors, but

was also a very private individual. He was very well read,oved listening to classical music and had a wide general

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knowledge. Peter’s eyes were affected after having

German measles as a boy and consequently he

suffered with poor eyesight. He even commented

once, after a rugby match between the staff and

school 1st XV, an annual event in the early days, that

his good catch was due to him hearing the ball coming

rather than seeing it!

When he retired in 1993, he left Hereford to live in

Kendal and be nearer his family. Many wondered what

he would do with himself and indeed what HCS

would do without him! However, he zoomed off to his

new future in style in his new BMW and continued to

live life to the full. He was a keen walker and loved the

Lake District. He enjoyed a great variety of activities;

guide at Sizergh Castle, examiner for the Duke of

Edinburgh Gold Award, gardening at Holehird, where

he was proudly in charge of compost and even made a

brief television appearance whilst working there. He

attended regularly at St George’s Kendal and was

involved with creating scenery and props for the

pantomimes, still happy as ever to contribute behind

the scenes as he did in numerous school plays.

He was also a driver for community transport and

did boat patrol on Windermere – zooming about in a

boat and advising lake users through his loud hailer!

He had recently completed his Royal Yachting

Association Safety Boat course. He was always busy

and still always giving of his time.

He was a modest man, totally selfless, kind, practical

and loyal.

Retired Headmaster, Barry Sutton adds:

“As a schoolmaster he was amongst the finest I have

known: he never took on anything that he thought he

could not do justice to and once he had agreed to assume

a task I could forget about it, knowing that it would be

well done and in the words of Drake’s prayer ‘thoroughly

finished.’ His reliability was outstanding and his

stewardship faithful: he ran the Boat Club year in and

year out, sometimes with help, too often without; his tuck

shop and later Buttery management was legendary;

although the facilities in School House when I came in

1975 were definitely below standard it was the house to be

in, as was 3Y. [His form] was a relaxed, but well-orderedplace and such was the relationship between Peter and his

pupils that a telling off by him, however mild, was worse

than any other in the School, because you felt that you

had let him down.

I was privileged to have Peter as a member of staff: his

requirements were always modest, he made few requests

and no demands, but his service was huge.”

Hereford Cathedral School is very grateful to Peter

Skinner for leaving a legacy of £10,000 for the benefit of

the school.
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