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Peter Nesbitt Young

West, 1952-57

On a passing visit through Cheltenham last Autumn, I discovered that Peter had died following a battle with illness.

Peter, Antony Grundy, the late Richard Bridge and I became lifelong friends during our overlapping periods in school, having taken up a common interest in printing. In turn, this created the core team which, building on earlier beginnings, evolved into The Camfield Press as we came to know it. Initially located under the Headmaster’s house (literally) in the early ‘50s, and later moving to the north basement of KB, this was the forerunner of the enlarged operation which continued for more than 50 years.

Peter was the eldest of three brothers to attend The Leys. The son of Sir Frank Young, first master of Darwin College, Cambridge and distinguished Biochemist, and Ruth, they lived not far from the School on Bentley Road. His younger brother Thomas, three years his junior, had a long career in the diplomatic service, while Simon emigrated to Canada and worked for many years at McGill University as Professor of Psychiatry.

Moving on in time, Peter embarked on the medical profession, expecting to specialise in Obstetrics and Gynaecology and fully qualifying to do so.

Later, finding himself as a lecturer at the Haile Selassie University in Addis Ababa (1965-68), a sudden emergency led to a change of direction. An immediate life-saving operation was necessary, but nowhere could they find an anaesthetist! Peter therefore spent the night hours reading up on both how to put the patient to sleep … and – more importantly –  to wake them up again. It was a case of needs must have, and thankfully his homework proved successful.

This engendered a yearning to pursue a different discipline, with Peter successfully passing all requisite examinations, culminating in the top qualification of FFARCS. Thus was set his professional life until retirement, working in London and Southampton before settling in Cheltenham in 1974 and becoming a consultant anaesthetist.

In a busy life, Peter managed to include two marriages, to Jane and Anne, and was blessed with four children: Sarah, Ben, Cecilia and James, and five grandchildren.

He retired in 2004 and became full-time carer to wife Anne who had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. The pair travelled extensively, never letting the wheelchair get in the way.

With a lifelong interest in music, he valued his clavichord, listened to a great deal of music (particularly Grieg and Haydn) and had a bookshelf of large volumes about composers.

In later years, following Anne’s death in 2010, he joined the Cheltenham Recorded Music Society (on one occasion even inviting me to speak at one of their monthly meetings!), the U3A and even a Samba Drumming group.

I can remember singing treble for The St Matthew Passion in the school chapel when Peter was the kettle-drummer – a moment of which he reminded me from time to time.

I am grateful to Antony Grundy for assisting with this tribute to Peter. Antony adds that he also sang Messiah (as a treble) with Peter drumming.

Words by Howard Cooke (East, 51-56) and Antony Grundy (West, 51-57), with contributions from James Young