St Bride's: News

Hugh Peppiatt Memorial

Hugh Peppiatt Memorial

Hugh Peppiatt
18th August 1930 - 31st December 2016

Download Order of Service (pdf)

On Wednesday, 3rd May, 2017, at 11:30am a service of thanksgiving for the life of Hugh Peppiatt was held at St Bride's Church, Fleet Street.

The BIDDING PRAYER

The Revd Canon Dr Alison Joyce delivered the bidding:-

We are here to celebrate the life and to honour the memory of an outstandingly able and gifted man; a man who was not merely pre-eminent in his field, but whose reputation and influence was truly global.

Martin will be greatly missed by all of you who knew him - and above all, of course, by his family and those who were closest to his heart. But our task at this service is to give thanks: to give thanks for all that he gave, and for all that he was.

Bring us, O Lord, at our last awakening
Into the house and gate of heaven,
To enter into that gate and dwell in that house
Where shall be no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light;
No noise nor silence, but one equal music;
No fears nor hopes, but one equal possession:
No ends nor beginnings, but one equal eternity
In the habitations of your glory and dominion,
World without end. 

Amen.

The prayers were read by the Revd James Johnston.

ADDRESSES

Anthony Salz

Read text...

Hugh and Claire met in Paris, at a party. Claire only went because her sister insisted that she (Claire) might meet her future husband there. The next time they saw each other, in London a few weeks later, they agreed to marry. Such decisiveness was out of character, but it proved to be a brilliant decision. I start here because marriage to Claire - blessed by 5 children and 20 grandchildren – not only gave Hugh immense pleasure … but also, as Hugh would have been the first to say, was key to his success.

He was much influenced by his education. He loved his time at Winchester, which he described as “a ferment of intellectual activity”. After his national service and Oxford, he spent a year at Wisconsin university. He was intrigued by the similarities between the Americans and the English. He wrote, with some abbreviation from me at the risk of doing a disservice to Hugh’s distinctive writing style: “I am inclined to think that there is a deal too much talk of the basic differences in the English and American character… The essential point is the Americans might be English, were not the English so American.”

He described his career decision: “ I was in a leisurely way trying to decide on what to bestow my somewhat meagre talents. It never occurred to me to be in a hurry, until my father said: your mother and I are fed up with having you lounging around the house drinking our gin. So while you are making up your mind you can come and work in my office and stick on stamps.” And so he began at Freshfields, alongside his father.

He became a partner in 1960, the same year as he and Claire were married. Over the years he built a highly successful practice, notably securing American Express as a client. He was a far better, all round lawyer than he claimed. Moreover, he had the special ability to talk authoritatively about something of which he knew little.

He is probably best known within Freshfields for three things: professionalising our recruiting, opening the New York Office and his leadership as Senior Partner.

In the early 1970s Freshfields decided not to settle for being a mid-sized, reasonably profitable firm, but instead to take on the leading city firms of the time. The partners realised the importance of recruiting … and that sourcing articled clerks from friends wouldn't be sufficient any longer. So Hugh was asked to take charge. It was a great success. His charm, warmth and natural authority attracted many future partners… and gave the firm a real advantage.

The opening of an office in New York was an important strategic move. The plan was to offer advice on English law in the US and so to develop relationships with American clients … and with the US law firms who were important referers of work at that time. Hugh was the obvious choice to open the office, in addition to which he saw himself as Anglo American, through Claire's family and his time in the Midwest.

New York was: the well located office in Rockefeller Plaza, the ice skating rink below in winter, the New York Racquet Club, the home in Larchmont and the local yacht club, little neck clams and the drinks trolley at Grand Central Station.. and the serious stuff of winning new key clients such as Mutual Life Insurance Society of New York and Tenneco. He, Claire, and the children, were immensely generous hosts. Peppiatt barbecues and games of paddle tennis were legendary. The family embraced the spirit that everything was possible in New York. Hugh was a marvellous ambassador for the firm. John McCall, who later came to lead the office, commented: “from the doorman at the Racquet Club to the Secretary of State, Cy Vance, Hugh was held in the highest regard”.

After 4 very successful years Hugh and his family came back to England – in part so that Hugh had the opportunity to be elected Senior Partner.

Leading a bunch of highly intelligent lawyers is never straightforward. Everyone has a view – rarely quite the same. Hugh succeeded in keeping us pointing in the same direction … most of the time. He reinforced in the firm a strong sense of family and humanity. He cared for his partners and worked hard to help those that encountered problems, whether in the office or at home. He always had time to listen. He was ambitious for the firm yet believed strongly in the importance of maintaining relationships within the profession.

Hugh led our relationship with the Bank of England, alongside Peter Peddie. As the firm’s longest standing client, dating back to 1743, the Bank was even more important than you might expect. The morning after the big storm of 1987 trees were down all over london and it had been almost impossible to get into the City. Hugh, with his customary determination, had succeeded in doing so – stylishly in his brown boots and storm gear. It was a bit of a shock when he and Peter were asked by the Bank to come down to advise on the implications of declaring the day a bank holiday. Peter, who somehow was more conservatively dressed, was far from sure that it would be appropriate for Hugh to go with him. Hugh was more pragmatic.

By the time Hugh reached the end of his term as Senior Partner, Freshfields was without doubt one of the handful of leading City firms. Hugh had played a critical part in the transformation.

His devotion to the firm was such that he was not well prepared for retirement. He would say that as senior partner he was not paid to plan his future. With typical modesty he commented: “I’ve never been very good at work but it’s what I do better than most things”.

So it was not long before he was busy again, applying his considerable intellect and energy to somewhat different organisations. He had roles with PA (the management consultants), Help the Aged and on the internal disputes tribunal for the EBRD. Most significantly he was appointed Chairman of Moorfields Eye Hospital. Here he steadfastly defended the interests of the hospital and its doctors against a sometimes intrusive government, on one particular occasion seriously upsetting the Secretary of State and in the process saying goodbye to an honour. He remarked that working in a hospital was quite different to Freshfields. In particular he was surprised to be treated deferentially, something that rarely happened - he claimed - either at Freshfields or at home.

He still made sure he had time for a range of interests – not least fishing and walking…often by himself … about which he explained: “for someone who talks as much as I do, it's probably good to be on one’s own from time to time”…I recall a number of walks with him in the New Forrest and occasional days fishing, when his questions would show his deep continuing interest in what was happening in the firm.

Hugh had many qualities, not least a great sense of humour and an ability to laugh at himself. He was courageous, compassionate, courteous, deeply loyal and principled – a bit of a perfectionist without being in the least pompous. He set a marvellous example to all who were lucky enough to come into contact with him. Little did I know when he interviewed me, over 40 years ago, the impact he would have on my career and my life. I could not have wished for a better mentor, colleague and friend.

Edward Peppiatt

Read text...

Since my father died we have received hundreds of letters and emails, and in a moment I hope to share with you something of the essence of the man that shines through the accounts of others.

But first, a bit of historical context:

After Winchester, the Coldstream Guards and Trinity Oxford, on a major open history scholarship, my father won a Harkness Fellowship to the US – a sort of Rhodes Scholarship in reverse. As Anthony hinted, this was a formative time and he embraced it, writing on his return of “the lasting friendships I made and thrilling hours of study”, as well as the many other activities he threw himself into, including acting, broadcasting and climbing.

He wrote with excitement of a society which he saw as one of opportunity for everyone regardless of background, class or creed, and spoke on his return of the importance of the privileged classes in England learning to accept all people from whatever background as equals.

And so his love affair with America and Americans began, followed by marriage to an American Scot and coming full circle some 25 years later when he went out to open the Freshfields office in New York.

In his mid-twenties while in the US, he turned down the offer of an associate professorship (in American History) at Stanford University to return to England where, he said later, in typically self-deprecating manner, he probably ended up making a better living as a mediocre lawyer than as a mediocre historian.

And so Freshfields, my mother and five children came into his life (in that order, chronologically at least), and he was devoted to all three – in fact, you might even say there were three in the marriage.

We shared my father with Freshfields and, although at times it felt like Freshfields had the unequal share of him, he also shared Freshfields with us, bringing into our lives some fantastic people, including a number of wonderful godparents and, when in NY, some of the cadre of bright young lawyers coming through – for whom we could tell my father felt a great fondness as well as a sense of responsibility – although we as children just thought they were pretty cool and a lot of fun. They are of course now among the venerable elder statesmen of Freshfields.

Anthony has spoken of the Freshfields years so I’ll skip to retirement. As well as the inevitable non-exec directorships, trusteeships and chairmanships, he also now found more time for family, where he seemed truly in his element, particularly when surrounded by some (and amazingly often all) of his 20 grandchildren, in whose life he loomed large, usually amid gales of laughter – as one of his grandchildren put it, he was never too important to be silly – he’d have liked that.

He also now returned to one of the great loves of his younger days, fishing, and I remember fondly the first time I fished with him on his beloved Test – after thrashing around on the river for a couple of hours to no avail he pointed me to a bend in the river and suggested I tried that spot. When I came back an hour or so later holding two very respectable trout he congratulated me warmly, and I thought I detected with a hint of paternal pride. It was only later that I discovered that that bend in the river was affectionately known by the locals as Duffers Corner.

Then there were the dogs – we never quite knew where they came in the pecking order of family, friends and Freshfields, probably because we didn’t dare ask for fear of the answer. My brother tells of finding my father making a cup of Fortnum & Mason tea for one of the dogs, apparently just as the dog liked it. I recall finding my father painstakingly deboning a freshly caught trout lovingly cooked by my mother and setting it to one side, I presumed for a future meal – it was of course - you might be ahead of me – destined for the dog bowl.

But above all I remember him surrounded by people and laughter - hordes of friends who came on holiday with us and were welcomed as family, a seemingly permanent house full of guests, frequent parties – my father was never happier than when sharing what he had with others.

But back to the letters – what do they tell of him? They tell of a man of humour, warmth, generosity, intellect, charm and style who was self deprecating and modest, a brilliant communicator, a servant leader.

But the golden thread running through all the accounts of him was the interest and joy he took in people, whether friends of his children, professional colleagues, dog-walkers met by chance on Wimbledon Common, the Postman, you name it. To him everyone had not just a story, but a story worth telling, and he made it his business to coax it out of them. He gave people that most precious of gifts – his time – and he did so unstintingly.

Among the letters, his children have read for the first time some accounts of a man who spent hours and resources championing those unequipped or too vulnerable to help or protect themselves.

He brought people out of themselves, gave them a sense of self-worth, effortlessly getting the best out of them. As one letter writer put it, people left his company feeling special, interesting, walking a bit taller.

If my father brought out the best in people – then it was my mother - his closest friend, companion and confidante in 56 years of marriage - who allowed him to reach his full potential - in the words of one of my mother’s closest and oldest friends [from her time at college in the US] who wrote on his death: “ How lucky I believed him to be to have found you, for it seemed to me you broke through the ordinary expectations of a “handsome accomplished English gentleman” and allowed him to be most fully himself.”

It was a partnership of true equals and as in all great partnerships, they had different and complementary strengths. If he was the natural front-man, then my mother was the chief engineer, quietly keeping things running smoothly and on the rails for all of us. Only now I think, looking back, do we realise just how reliant he was on her, how completely devoted he was to her, and how proud he was of her. Without my mother he would not have been fully the man we knew.

He also found inner strength and guidance in his profound faith. His was not a flashy or muscular faith but it was strong and deep, and it quietly pervaded all that he did. And if you knew the man, or reflect on what others have said, I probably don’t need to say any more, because as someone else remarked when they first found out about his strong Christian faith, it just kind of made sense of everything else about him.

My father died peacefully on the 31st December, as he stood at the gate of the year, to borrow a phrase from one of his favourite passages. In his last few weeks we saw some of his strongest traits shine through – grace, dignity, humility, immense gratitude, expressed at every opportunity, to those who tended him, a steadfast faith and great thankfulness for all the blessings he had had in life, and of course humour – humour to the last. And so in death as in life.

In writing after his experience as a Harkness scholar, my father said “I can hope to plough back into the wide field some part of that which was given me with such an open hand”, and on that early promise he made good.


READINGS

Seth Crawley read 1 John 4: 7-12

Read text...

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

Claire Peppiatt read John 14: 1-7; 25-27

Read text...

14 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.

Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.

25 These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.

26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

James Peppiatt read Extract from Line written a few miles above Tintern Abbey by William Wordsworth

Read text...

14 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.

Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.

25 These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.

26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Paul Leonard read The Truly Great by Stephen Spender

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Read text...

14 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.

Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.

25 These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.

26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

MUSIC

The choir & organist of St Bride's performed the following anthems and songs:-

Fidelis - Whitlock

Psalm 121 - Walford-Davies

In Paradisum from Requiem - Fauré

O magnum mysterium - Lauridsen

Lux aeterna - Elgar

Shall we gather at the river? - Lowry, arr Morley

Hymns:

Now Thank We All Our God

Be Still, For The Presence Of The Lord

Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer

OBITUARIES & COMMENT

The Telegraph

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