Written by James Irving, Head of Finance & Fundraising at St Bride’s
I’ve often heard the phrase ‘you don’t know what you’ve got until you lose it’ and considered times when that has indeed been the case in my life and work. It is particularly apt for my good friend and colleague Peter Silver, who left London in April to head for pastures new in Birchington-on-Sea, Kent.
In fact, it’s a slightly misleading phrase in Peter’s case, as I have been more than aware of the immeasurable contribution that he has made to the life of the church for over twenty years.
You will know Peter as the master of all St Bride’s trades – Guildsman, Churchwarden, PCC Secretary, Chairman of Governors at the Foundation, Trustee of the Charity – and, particularly important to me, as an ever-present steward at the hundreds of memorials and carol services I have worked on over the last two decades.
But he was so much more than simply someone who put on a gown and looked important: he greeted people, warmly and genuinely; he took time to look after those who were nervous or upset; he briefed readers; he organised and led the team of volunteers; he made St Bride’s weekday services the smooth, professional yet approachable events that they have become.
Peter’s working and social life has centred around the City and its surrounds, firstly as a printing apprentice with St Clements Press, the commercial arm of the FT Group, and then as Marketing Director of John Swain & Son, a typesetting and printing company in Clerkenwell. He fell under St Bride’s spell after reading a lesson at the Publicity Club Carol Service in the 1990s, by which time he was running a private members club in St Martin’s Lane.
Peter has been an immense support to me, no more so than in 2012 when my wife Natalie died of colon cancer. It was shattering to discover that, less than a year later, Peter’s wife Sue had been diagnosed with the same disease and she, too, succumbed to it in May 2015.
In happier times, Peter gamely acted as usher on the occasion of my wedding to Angela in 2017, despite being on crutches following a mysterious fall outside his local pub a few days earlier.
As we emerge from lockdown and begin to fill the diary with all the services that would otherwise have taken place at St Bride’s over the last year, I really do wonder how we are going to be able to cope.
Peter is not leaving us entirely, as he continues as a St Bride’s Charity Trustee, but I suggest he readies himself for regular SOS calls from me!
On behalf of us all at St Bride’s, I say a huge thank you to Peter and wish him and his golden retriever Bellini all the very best in their new home.
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