Sad Passing of Distinguished Alumnus Peter Barwell MBE CSM
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of much-admired alumnus, former Governor and life-long friend of the school, Peter Barwell (Wf 45-53), who passed away yesterday, 4th March 2020, aged 84.
Peter joined Bloxham in January 1945, in the junior house (then known as Egerton). During his time at school he was awarded a Bloxham Standard for boxing, received a prize for his great achievements with the Gardening Club and in his leaving year, won the photographic prize.
His loyalty and passion for the prosperity of the school has held strong from the moment he left, right up until his last days. After leaving school, his presence at Old Bloxhamist dinners in London, Oxford, Leamington and Birmingham, as well as more informal gatherings and the annual OB cricket festival, continued to foster his connection with the school. His efforts continued overseas and even on personal trips he sought to meet friends of the school on the other side of the world in Australia and New Zealand. He was involved in many aspects of the school community life and in 2015, Peter joined the school choir’s visit to Belgium where he and Saskia Hall (Wf 08-15) placed wreaths at the Menin Gate.
In his professional life, Peter had a successful career. He was also a stalwart of the Birmingham Conservative Association, first serving as Chairman of the Central Council of Birmingham Young Conservatives and then in 1966, he was elected as one of two City Councillors. His dedication continued and in 1985, he was awarded the Golden Cross of Merit for special services to the Polish community and in 1992, he was appointed as Lord Mayor of Birmingham. One of his career highlights was as founder and organiser of the Birmingham Superprix, a highly successful Formula 3000 held in the heart of the city between 1985 and 1989.
Peter’s philanthropy set an example to the school community: through presenting books to the Liddon Library, providing the gift of a crucifix for the Confessional and donating to the Centenary Appeal Fund all within just a few years of leaving. The desire to give back to the school that had given him so much, never waned. In 1970 he suggested the creation of the 200 Club and in 1970 he joined the Old Bloxhamist Society Committee, a position which he held for 50 years.
Recognising his enterprise, energy, enthusiasm and commitment to the school, in 1989 he was appointed to the School Council as a Governor, a position he occupied for 20 years. Soon after this appointment, Peter became a Woodard Fellow, on the Southern Division and after the abolition of the regional divisions, a small board of just nine Fellows was created and Peter was very proud to have been appointed as one of these members. In 2010, together with Michael Deeley (Wn 52-56), Peter founded the school’s legacy association, The Egerton Society, and today, there are over 60 members. His work did not stop there as he was also instrumental in digitalising the school’s archives, creating an online directory with over 14,000 images and every copy of The Bloxhamist since 1875.
Peter always had a sense of adventure and fun. He was known in the 1960s to be ‘zooming around in his red Sprite and deerstalker hat’! And in 1972, Peter was one of the first people to go around the athletics track at the Olympic Stadium in Munich where he 'trotted around in his bowler hat'. He was reported to say: “We just did it for a bit of light relief!”
Peter is survived by his wife Pam, who has been a supporting figure at his side at Bloxham events since their engagement in 1960, and their children. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.