In memory of: Peter Walker, Lord Walker of Worcester
£513.00 raised so far
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Peter Walker passed away at St Richard's Hospice in Worcester on 23rd June 2010 at the age of 78.
He was MP for Worcester from 1961 to 1992 and then became Lord Walker of Worcester.
His family released the following statement on the day of his death and are hugely grateful for the generous tributes that have been paid to him from so many quarters since. Please feel free to add your own comments on the page below.
"Peter Walker passed away quietly on Wednesday morning after a long struggle with cancer. His whole family were able to be with him in his last days. He will be hugely missed by his wife Tessa, five children and five grandchildren. As a politician he always believed in the importance of helping those most in need, combining efficiency with compassion. He was a true one nation Conservative and a patriot. His great personal compassion was always reflected in his private life."
"To the end he was passionate about his work and his family, working diligently and enthusiastically, but always taking the time to support and cherish those closest to him. For all his great achievements, those who know him best will remember him most for his humour and generosity."
"Having dedicated so much of his life to serving Worcester, it was appropriate that he was able to spend his last days here. As a passionate supporter of the hospice movement, who for many years championed the cause of palliative care in Parliament, he would have been proud of the care that was provided for him at St Richard's Hospice. The family would like to thank the staff and volunteers at St Richard's and all the friends who have supported us through this difficult time."
Instead of flowers for the funeral, the family have asked that donations be made to St Richards Hospice, a favourite cause of his and the place where he was so well looked after in his last days.
At the funeral on Thursday 1st July, Peter's oldest son, Jonathan gave the following tribute:
I am not planning a long speech, as my father’s ability to reel off a half hour of finely argued prose is sadly not hereditary! But I wanted to spend a few minutes talking about my father’s pretty amazing life; and some of the things that were most important to him and that summed him up to us. My father was born in 1932 in west , and grew up in a very normal suburban environment. He almost did not grow up at all, having two narrow escapes. The first was pretty miraculous, when my grandparents decided at the last minute that they couldn’t bear to have their children evacuated to for the duration of the war. The ship they would have been on was torpedoed. The second was when, aged about 7, he crept into a pub cellar and, thinking the cider was apple juice, drank so much he spent 3 days in hospital. He never touched cider again, though I’m relieved to say the experience did not put him off wine.
As you will probably all know, my father’s entrepreneurial streak brought him great financial success at a very young age. This financial success incidentally, was single-mindedly achieved, through sheer hard work. It had one very simple aim in mind. This was to enter politics and to be financially independent. Money was only ever a means to an end. Politics was of the joy of my father’s professional life of course. As a precocious teenage Young Conservative he was advised by one of the great grandees of the party, Leo Amery, that financial independence was vital to ensure political independence. Being my father he therefore, quite simply, went and did it.
Even as a schoolboy he always had a mind for finance, and throughout his business life he always employed boys who, like him, had done a paper round, as he saw this as a sure sign of an entrepreneurial spirit. My father started his professional career in an insurance office in at 16, his parents having moved there. This, incidentally, also gave him the chance to come regularly to to watch his beloved Worcestershire. As a schoolboy he had randomly chosen to support Worcestershire, and this was one of the reasons he leapt at the chance to represent in later life.
From that beginning in business at 16 my father rapidly achieved the financial success he sought to launch himself into politics. He was a man in a hurry – that never changed! Much of the early success of the business was built on offering insurance to policemen. The simple rationale for this was that police stations were open all night and therefore he could sell policies to them 24 hours a day. Through insurance, through unit trusts, and through Slater Walker, the company he set up with another rising star, Jim Slater, my father gained what he had sought, the financial independence to enter parliament. All this as well as his mandatory national service which had its own excitements: he was accidentally enrolled with a platoon of Covent Garden porters, was taught Russian in order to be dropped behind enemy lines in the event of war breaking out, and played rugby for the Army. This included a match against who played barefoot, which apparently completely threw the army side. He also spent time working for JFK in his 1960 election campaign, and Jack and, especially Robert Kennedy were lifelong heroes of his, ranking alongside Disraeli and Churchill.
In 1961, aged 28, my father was elected to represent . He was to hold the seat for 31 years and win eight elections there. My father’s political record needs no introduction to you. Youngest member of the shadow cabinet and then of the cabinet. A cabinet minister for fifteen years, one of the longest serving ministers of the 20 century holding 5 cabinet posts and staying on through two very different leaders by dint of his sheer talent, energy, dedication and enthusiasm. He loved all his posts, from being the world’s first Environment Minister; through the nightmare of the 1974 oil crisis; through cocking numerous highly satisfying snooks at the French in European agriculture negotiations and the lamb wars; through triumph over Scargill tempered with very deep compassion for the miners Scargill had led astray; to his final post as Secretary of State for Wales. Here he finally got the chance to run a country along the One Nation, Keynesian, compassionate lines that he always espoused. The headlines in last week described my father as “Peter Walker, true friend to the Welsh”. Imposed there due to the lack of any Welsh Tory MPs, it was hardly an easy job. He made the most enormous success of it, and was and is truly loved there. The only thing he always refused to do was go and see v at the . My father was not one to give up his deepest loyalties for cheap political point scoring.
I wanted to find one word to use about my father, and particularly about his political legacy, but actually one is not enough. How about three. Diligence, honesty and compassion.
Diligence as reflected in my father’s tireless energy; his inability to sit still; his immense workload shouldered with delight; his ability to devote so very much both to his work and to his family and friends.
Honesty. I don’t think I have ever met anyone as ethical, as black and white, as undeviatingly, uncomplicatedly straight as my father. He had, of course, made money solely to allow money not to be important to him in politics, and he always stuck by his principles. He exited his business interests as soon as he entered the cabinet, to his considerable financial detriment, without a moment of regret. And that honesty was also a reflection of his deep sense of right and wrong; his intense loyalty to Queen, country, party and friends that made him an ideal Member of Parliament for the Faithful City; his total faith in human nature;, and his deeply held, very simple, Christian faith which made him such a constant worshipper at this church for a quarter of a century.
Compassion. Compassion was the guiding light of my father’s life, the lodestone of his brand of one nation Toryism, the Toryism of Benjamin Disraeli, of duty and of charity. He believed passionately in fairness of opportunity, in giving every child the chance to rise, like him, to the heights through hard work and dedication. It might have been easy for his success to make him arrogant. It is striking instead how many of the recent comments have been about his ability to be at ease with and to empathise with anyone, of whatever background, race or creed. He was one of the first to address inner city deprivation and he had enormous respect for the workers of . This was why he was so sad to see the mineworkers pushed into a strike they never voted for by the Marxists who had hijacked their proud union. He was always far more proud of the massive personal votes he achieved in the council estates of Worcester and Droitwich than of the easier wins in our leafy villages. He was delighted to oversee the privatisation of British Gas whilst he was Minister of Energy, a nation of stakeholders was very much his political philosophy in a nutshell. “If you see Sid, tell him” also had a nice personal resonance for one whose father and brother were both called !
Beyond politics I think there were two deep loves of my father’s life. One was , and, particularly, Worcestershire. My father’s first political memories were of Churchill’s great speeches, and his shock at Churchill’s post war defeat was one of the main reasons for his interest in politics. He adored and all it stands for, justice, the Mother of Parliaments, fair play. And for him (rightly of course!) Worcester and Worcestershire epitomise all that is best about , are very much the heart of our great country, soft, gentle, smiling, but with an inner, unquenchable strength and beauty. He loved that this was the country of Elgar and of the Enigma Variations. He particularly loved Abbots Morton of course, the village, the church and the house, which has been our family home now for 25 years. He loved, incidentally, that in the 19 century another family of Walkers lived in our house and were the rectors of this church. Their coat of arms is behind the organ. The daughter of the house was courted by Elgar, but Elgar was sent packing by her father – not only was he Catholic but also a musician!
As I mentioned earlier, my father supported Worcestershire cricket from a very early age and he was thrilled to be selected for the seat that held what is the most beautiful, evocative ground in . My father always loved cricket, and one of the proudest moments of his career was receiving a vote of thanks, following a speech in , from Sir Donald Bradman. He followed Worcestershire passionately throughout his life with a devotion that could be positively one eyed – he supported Graham Hick for the team until Graham was well into his forties, and never forgave Atherton for declaring with Hick on 98. Over the last decade that devotion was equalled by his equally passionate support for Worcester Rugby. Worcestershire and Worcester meant a huge amount to him and he was so proud of its history, perhaps above all if its loyalty. For an MP, a City whose Guildhall has statues of Kings Charles I and Charles II, with Cromwell’s head between them, devil’s horns on his head and his ears nailed back, might be considered somewhat alarming. My father positively revelled in it.
The other love was his family. And looking at us who can blame him! I should point out, however, that this love was not just for the 2 legged members of the family, there was some considerably jealousy at the sheer number of pictures of our dogs that cluttered my father’s desk at work! Our first Old English Sheepdog became a minor celebrity when my father used his love of Lymeswold cheese as a marketing point – I m not sure the Milk Marketing Board were overjoyed by that. Caspar, our current Old English Sheepdog, continues the celebrity trend by being mobbed by Japanese and Italian tourists whenever he is walked in . And our poodle, Gypsy, was my father’s favourite of all, spending much of the last few months next to him and being shamelessly fed titbits by him at the table.
However, on a more serious note. My father escaped the Brighton Bomb which injured and killed many of his friends because he was in – he drove back each night of the conference to be with us. Throughout my childhood I cannot remember a single holiday that my parents took without us, all I can remember is an utterly idyllic growing up between and . My parents were ever present and always, always, there for us, always there to play with and to have fun, to tickle us to the point of hysteria, to play tennis with, to talk to. My father cooked us breakfast every morning and took us to school. The cliché goes that behind every man is a great woman. My father absolutely adored my mother, I think it was love at first sight. I’m told that he never actually proposed to her, but took her to for lunch and started talking about “when we are married”. Always a fast mover. As children, and indeed as adults, we could not possibly have asked for better parents. Even better, there was a constant diet of conservative fetes for us to attend and buy sweets, old books, and pointless items at. What more could any child ask! It was a golden childhood, and we are all very deeply grateful for all that my parents did for us. It was, of course, particularly wonderful to see Robin regain in May the seat that my father first claimed 49 years ago. We were deeply blessed that my father was able to see that happy day and to toast Robin’s victory in champagne, surrounded by all of us.
My father had the most amazing, packed, fulfilled life. He achieved pretty much everything. He was deeply loved by many, and respected by millions of all political persuasions. He kept the flame of compassionate, Christian, Conservatism burning brightly at a time when it was in some danger, and lived to see it back at the summit of British political life. He, and we, have so much to be proud of and so much to be thankful for. He remains my hero. Thanks be to God for a wonderful life.
Charity Registration No. 515668
St Richard's Hospice provides free specialist palliative care for patients living with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. Each year the hospice team supports over 2,300 patients and family members in Worcestershire. £6.7m is needed to raise this year to continue their work.
For a great man & one of our finest politicians
Donation by David & Sarah Wood on 26/07/10
+ £14.10 Gift Aid
Donation by Jonathan Walker on 13/07/10
Donation by Ruth Caven on 12/07/10
Robin - congratulations on completing the Worcestershire Way and raising money for St Richards Hospice in memory of your father.
Donation by Harriett Baldwin on 10/07/10
+ £8.74 Gift Aid
Dear Robin and Family, With deepest sympathy on your loss, be consoled knowing he and all those he loved will be with me at the altar.
Donation by John Costello on 10/07/10
All our thoughts are with you and your family, M & C xx
Donation by Cecily & Marcus on 09/07/10
With love to all. Holly & Gary
Donation by Gary Smith on 07/07/10
+ £11.28 Gift Aid
A vital local service lots of love to the Walker family xx
Donation by Danielle Dale on 07/07/10
+ £5.64 Gift Aid
all our thoughts are with you xx
Donation by josephine jonathan on 06/07/10
Donation by Marianna Walker on 06/07/10
My thoughts are with you all, much love Hux V xxx
Donation by Victoria Huxster on 05/07/10
My thoughts and prayers are with you all. x
Donation by Thomas Dale on 04/07/10
+ £14.10 Gift Aid
Donation by Matthew Snape on 03/07/10
A great man that Worcestershire can be proud of and we celebrate his life and achievements. Our thoughts are with his family.
Donation by Chris & Jenny Morecroft on 29/06/10
+ £2.82 Gift Aid
With much love to you all.
Donation by Sarah Dunstall on 28/06/10
A fitting tribute to a great man. Sending you all lots of love. Kelly xoxox
Donation by Kelly Lovegrove on 28/06/10
+ £5.64 Gift Aid
- * Online donations£513.00
- Offline donations£0.00
- Text donations£0.00
- Total raised£513.00
- Gift Aid£115.92
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