Peter Alfred Barrett obituary

Born 1951, died 2021. A graduate of the Department of Germanic Studies.


My dear friend and fellow alumnus of the Department of Germanic Studies, Peter Barrett, died on 11 September 2021 aged 70, following a stoically born battle with cancer since early 2020.

Peter was born in 1951 in Poole, Dorset, where he attended the Poole Grammar School and later Hardye’s School, Dorchester. From there, he went on to Sheffield, where he studied German, with French subsidiary, from 1969-73 and then prepared for his teaching career on the University's PGCE course in 1973-74. It was also during his time at Sheffield that Peter met Margaret Wilson, and they married in 1972.

Pete's academic potential and keen interest in the theatre and politics were evident in his active participation, especially in modern German drama classes, where he particularly enjoyed the thought-provoking style of lecturer Mike McColgan. This was later to find an outlet in numerous key roles in 'amdram' groups elsewhere; but also in teaching and significant civic service.

Teaching posts in Detmold (with the British Centre for Teachers in Germany) and Staffordshire; and a part-time MA course at Keele followed university. However, the full blossoming of Pete's political, cultural and linguistic talents, occurred in Lichfield, where he became a Labour Party councillor and in due course, Sheriff (1996-97) and Mayor (1998-99).

Not content with these absorbing roles, however, Pete had also become a keen member of Lichfield's Dr Johnson Society, of which he was a very active chairman from 2010 to 2015.  And there is more!

As well as treading the proverbial boards (and grass!) for Lichfield’s Shakespeare in the Park and Lichfield Mystery Plays, Pete was a key figure in the city's twinning programmes with Limburg-an-der-Lahn (Germany) and Sainte Foy-lès-Lyon (France) and had been long-standing chairman of the Twinning Association from 2012. Here, his linguistic prowess shone as he was frequently called upon to interpret across all three languages at the same time. He later took up Spanish as a further string to his polyglot bow.

From the above, it can be deduced that Peter Barrett was no 'shrinking violet' but those who knew him best recognised the sincere humanity and, yes, private humility of the man beneath the public surface. He cared deeply for his family, friends and the local and wider community and is deeply missed by all who knew him. He leaves beloved wife Margaret and son, Jamie.

Written and submitted by Martin Fee