Peter Whittle obituary

English and drama teacher who also wrote poetry and plays and worked as a drama examiner in retirement

My father, Peter Whittle, who has died aged 82, was a teacher, diplomat, parish clerk, craftsman, toy-maker, woodworker, puppeteer, beekeeper, poet, playwright, artist, subversive, campaigner, protester and journalist. He was also a Punch and Judy man, department store Santa, fundraiser, public speaker, actor, director, designer, mask-maker, musician, theatregoer and critic. He was a Quaker, and Quakers say: “Live adventurously.”

Peter grew up in Northampton, the son of Cecil, a barber and gardener, and Jessie (nee Fulton), a doll-maker. They moved to Brighton when Peter was 14, and he was introduced in his teens to Quakerism, which became the driving force of a life devoted to reconciliation and peace. He gained a degree in English literature at Brighton Technical College, then trained as a teacher in Bristol, and studied the teaching of drama at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

For his national service, Peter worked in the community in Hong Kong, returning later to teach there, with his wife, Margaret (nee Price), whom he had met when she worked in the reference library at Brighton. They had married in 1955 – Peter was two days late for the wedding when his plane developed a fault and he had to stop at Karachi.

On returning to Britain in 1960 with his young family, he taught English and drama at the Friends’ school, Great Ayton, North Yorkshire. Contributing widely to the life of the boarding school and village, among many other things he converted a chapel into a theatre used for village and school productions.

From 1979 to 1983 he was director of the Quaker office at the UN in Geneva at a time when disarmament predominated, travelling, networking, meeting and influencing world figures. Peter’s other key role was on the history and influence of conscientious objectors, his work being published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

After Geneva, he taught at Meridian school, Royston, and, finally, at King Edward VI Boys, Stratford-upon-Avon, where the sixth form produced a tribute performance of his 1969 play The Theatre Plot.

After retiring in 1994, Peter worked as a drama examiner. Peter and Margaret devoted much time and energy from their home near Banbury to fundraising for Katharine House Hospice by hosting in their home each year a fair selling their own craftwork. In later years they toured local community groups giving talks and presentations and selling their wares. Their last craft fair, four days before Peter’s death, raised nearly £4,000, bringing the total raised since 1993 to about £110,000.

He is survived by Margaret, their children, Felicity, Deborah, Jeremy, Ursula and me, and two grandchildren.

• This article was amended on 24 November 2014. Reference to the Katharine House Hospice being in Stafford, inserted through an editing error, was deleted.

Sarah Miles

The GuardianTramp

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