Peter Deary obituary

Other lives: Long-serving scout leader and church volunteer in Hertfordshire

My father, Peter Deary, who has died aged 87, was a metallurgist and sales engineer, and a self-effacing, thoughtful and practical man particularly remembered for his voluntary work at his church and with the Scout Association.

He was born in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, the only child of George Deary, a dental technician, and Nellie (nee Winch), a housewife. Leaving Handside school at 15, he was apprenticed as a dental technician for five years. His long service as a Scout leader started at this time, volunteering with the local cubs.

He met Mary (nee Bye), his future wife, at the age of 14 at the church youth club. They married six years later in 1954, after Peter had completed his apprenticeship. National service followed with the RAF, during which he took A-levels at night school. He then worked at the Turner Dental School, now the University Dental Hospital of Manchester, returning to evening classes to study for an HND in metallurgy. From Manchester, he and Mary, now with a family of three children, moved to Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire, where Peter worked as a metallurgist. Subsequently he became a sales engineer for a castings company, retiring aged 65.

Having settled in Letchworth, Peter joined St Paul’s church, where over the years he served on the parochial church council, as a church warden and as a lay preacher. He was also led the scout troop based there. He once made fibre glass canoes, which were used on river-camping expeditions. His habit of wet shaving outside his tent using a cut-throat razor proved a source of fascination and entertainment for the scouts. He eventually became district commissioner.

Retiring from scouting, Peter joined the local Rotary Club. In his chairmanship year he chose the Woodland Trust as his charity. He persuaded the local council to provide a piece of land on the outskirts of Letchworth on which he planted 300 trees. Thirty years on, it is the flourishing Manor Wood, a testament to a man whose life was spent serving others and living in as sustainable a way as possible; never beating his own drum, just getting on with it.

Peter was very active in setting up and leading local health walks. He introduced the participants to tree hugging and shared his knowledge of wildflowers and bird species. A heart attack in 2013 reduced his activities, but he continued to read and to walk every day.

He is survived by Mary, their three children, Adrian, Jackie and me, and seven grandchildren.

Alison Deary

The GuardianTramp

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