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Name

Date of Crossing the Bar

RBA Member

Comments

Lest we forget an Oppo
ROBERTSON Peter (Robbie) 7 Sep11 Yes

 

Slim Murfin

Memories of Peter Robertson

 

Eddie Widnall - President of the Regulating Branch and RN Police Association

From Eddie Widnall.  RBA President.
9th September 2011.
Like just about everyone else I was shocked and very saddened to hear about the sudden death of Peter, he will leave a big hole in a lot of peoples lives.
No more phone calls, “Hello Robertson here, I’ve just thought of something I need you to do for me”.
Now I want to tell you about the Peter Roberson I know.
I first meet Peter, or RPO Robertson, as I called him then, when I first joined Whale Island to start a Leading Patrolman’s course, as we were called then. On that day, 5th November 1964 I lugged my kit across Pompy harbour on a pasboat, landed on Whale Island and found my way to the Reg Office, leaving a kit bag and holdall by the steps.
Having done the paperwork they told me to put my kit in Lion Block and report to the Reg School. Now in those days all establishments had small four wheeled trolleys for just that purpose, moving your kit about.
I spotted this tall RPO, back then he had a big ginger beard and was quite slim, the big belly, white hair and beard came later, I asked him politely, because back then cooks were always polite to RPO’s, “Excuse me RPO where are the kit trolleys kept”.
“What you joining for chef”, came the reply.
“I’m going to be a Regulator”, I answer proudly.
“Well”, he said, “here’s your first initiative test, you find your own fucking kit trolley”.
At the time I had no idea how big a part he would play in my life, years down the line.
Over the years in between I used to see him at the old Regulating Branch Association gatherings or out and about in the bazaars but never worked for him. On the day he left the Navy, I was the Discipline Master at Arms in HMS Nelson, he sat in my office and drank tea and chatted to me, telling me he was going to run a pub etc, while my runner did as much as he could of his discharge routine. I think the only thing he couldn’t do for him was the meeting with the Commodore!
When that was done he thanked me, we shook hands and off he went and I thought that was the last I would see of him. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

I have to come forward for a number of years now.

After leaving the Navy in 1988 I moved to Scotland, that’s another story, and while living there got to know Willie Dick again, I first met him on his Master at Arms course in 19????, on one of those occasions when I was an instructor in the school, and he introduced me to Freemasonry and I joined in 1990.
While this was going on I had become ill with a heart complaint, which in 1992 would lead to a transplant but that’s in the future.
My partner, who was a serving RPO Wren, was offered the opportunity to take up the SD route, which necessitated in a move back south in 1991.
I was enjoying my Freemasonry and was reluctant to give it up, no problem said Willie, I know two guys who are masons in Pompey and they will look after you and take you to their Lodge. Lovely, problem solved.
And so I meet Joe Pettinger and Peter Robertson again, who were long time friends and who Willie had known for years before
Unfortunately, Joe, another lovely man, passed away some time ago and that’s another story for later.
At the time I couldn’t drive, the medics had suspended my licence because of my heart condition. Joe and Peter would arrange lifts for me to get from home to the Lodge, some 17 miles each way.
Also at this time my heart condition would come and go but when it did my colour would change and one evening in the bar, after a meeting, it happened, I went a similar colour to the Jolly Green Giant and nearly fell over. It was the first time Peter had seen it happen and he was very concerned; I think he thought I was going to die on him and that was not the last time.
It passed and I went back to my normal colour of pale battleship grey and Peter asked me, in his own inimitable way, “What the fucks going on then”
So I explained all, my heart is falling to bits, I feel no pain, one day it will kill me, no time scale etc, the only possibility is a transplant. I had a transplant on the 28th February 1992 so I’m really a 50 year old Scotsman from Aberdeen.
Once he knew all, I became aware of the other side of Peter, very concerned, always asking how I was and generally keeping an eye on me and of course he also became a different person to me. He took me into a number of other Masonic degrees and the RBA and I followed him into the Secretaries chair, in two Lodges, one I still do.

He was still big, loud, could upset someone just by saying Good Morning to them, always had to be the centre of attention, could at times be a miserable old git, irascible and pig headed  but I say all that with the greatest of affection.

But that was only one face he showed to the world, I knew him as kind, thoughtful and generous man, with a strong religious belief. Also a loving husband and family man, proud of the achievements of his children, with the two boys following their father into the navy.

Since then we have spent a lot of time together. My partner Kate Pettinger has known him and his wife Betty for years, through Joe.

We are members of the Royal Naval and Royal Albert Yacht Club, as are Willie and Michele Dick, Michele is Kate’s, sister and we spent many a social function together. You could find us, Peter, Betty, me, Kate, Willie and Michele in the Club on most Friday nights. Later, Michele’s daughter and Willies step daughter Camilla married Peter’s youngest son Steve. Quiz nights were a revelation, his dry wit, and sardonic humour and inevitable bluster led to many happy defeat. But he was never wrong!

So now my links to Peter include Navy, Masonic, Social, RBA and Family, what a full and big circle life is. The only thing I didn’t follow him in was drinking, because if I drank that much, I keel over.

Oh, and not forgetting following him has President of the RBA, you will notice he still had me following him.

That’s why, I said at the beginning he will leave a big hole in my life, there will be lots of places and occasions I will still go, where in the past he would have been there too, I would have probably given him a lift. He will still be there, just not physically but it’s hard to imagine going without him just now.

He was and will always be my friend.
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David Addis

Many will remember Robbie with fondness and respect. I did not serve with Robbie, but soon enjoyed his company and guidance when I became a committee member of the Association. I will miss seeing Robbie at the Meetings, AGM and Reunion
After reading these many memories of Peter I realise there was a very different man that those who did not know him well got the imporession of.
I am very pleased that I did finally meet Peter when I joined the Association and had the chance to get to know him.

Tom Rees

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Very, very few regulators past or present can lay claim to being a giant in the regulating branch, but I honestly believe Peter deserves this accolade.

I first met Peter on my leading regulator course in 1969 at the school, he had a ginger beard and hair, wore a waistcoat, looking for all the world like James Robertson Justice he was the source of my nightmares.... until I got to know him.

Peter didn't suffer fools gladly, but he was compassionate and patient with anyone who tried hard. He was a regular visitor to the RNPHQ at Portsmouth.

When Peter and Betty took over the pub in Old Portsmouth the drugs squad held their annual reunion there.

When the RBA began the reunions in the early nineties, I stayed at Robbies pub for bread and breakfast and that is a story all of it's own. The RBA reunion began to falter and Robbie was in he toilet of the Home Club, Darby Allon came in and muttered the immortal words " something must be done" The something that was " done " led to the formation of RBA 93 with the hard work of other members it went from strength to strength guided by our mentor Peter Robertson. In my short tenure as chairman of the RBA I was indebted to Robbie and Henry Cooper for the quiet support and guidance that they provided.

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Colin Gent
Very sad news indeed Peter will certainly be missed by many, he was indeed a huge presence and influence within the branch and the stalwart of our association.

One of my abiding memories will be that when he was FMAA of HMS Dryad, he arranged for Ray Loveday and I to escort Flag Officer Portsmouth from the dockyard as motorcycle outriders for Dryad divisions and inspections. Only he could have arranged that and I cannot recalled it ever being done before or since.
Bob Shirley
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Victualling RPO H.M.S. Victorious, " you always do a check for a victual, but not necessarily a victual for a check". I'll always remember him saying that, but the meaning is as lost on me then as it is now. You may just as well ask me to draw and describe a tot measure, naming all the important parts. There are certain things that will always remain a mystery to me. Sorry Peter. up there, one day, I might be able to redeem myself, RIP old son.

Bob Bloomfield

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He was a well loved and well respected man and through him at Yeovilton in 1962 I became a Regulator. He was a lovely man to know and I know that he enjoyed a fruitful and happy life.

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Gary Jones
You got alongside and you went to the Pembroke, it's what you did. For me, his sagacity, humour and stature both physically and figuratively within the branch and beyond will be sorely missed. It was an honour to have known you Sir. My sincere condolences to all who will miss the'big-man'.

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Tam Carmichael

I will miss him very much , he always had a kind word to say to me even when I have been a bit of an OD at time is my youth, however, that was the man .

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Bill Philip
I was shocked to hear of the passing of Peter, a true legend in his own lifetime. I had the pleasure of working for Peter when he was the FMAA onboard HMS Fearless, he was one of the very best and will be sorely missed

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Jim MacPherson
Peter was an instructor at RNRS when I was in LR8 in March '69 and our paths crossed several times over the years, the last time when he was mine host of 'The Pembroke'A true gentleman of the old school, the world is a poorer place for his passing.
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Ray Forman

Many an argument I had with Peter, the first being in 1965 when I was scoring a cricket match at Whale Island. Robbie, resplendent in full cricket whites, disagreed with the number of runs I had recorded against him and that was the start of our mutual debating society. In later years we took to competing against one another to see who could tell the best joke and get the biggest laugh. I’m sure Betty will remember, as we caused her to blush on more than one occasion.
I can just imagine Peter marching into Heaven and wonder if St. Peter knows that his relief has arrived. He’s just about to find out and the celestial branch of the RBA will soon be inaugurated. Any bets on who the Chairman will be?
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David Lodrick
Absolutely devastated to learn that Peter Robertson crossed the bar today. He was many things to many people. Peter will be remembered for his presence, fairness and firmness during his long Regulating career in the Royal Navy and as the driving founder father of our Association in 1993.
There are no goodbyes for us Peter - wherever you are now, rest in peace - your memory will always be in our hearts.
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Karen Keevil
Sadly I didn't know Peter very well but am very fortunate to have know him via the Regulating Branch Association and Committee. Will always remember his words of encouragement
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Tony Davey
Never had the privilege to serve with Peter. But I knew him socially before I joined the branch. Way back in 1968 I use to attend a lodge with Peter and Rod Steiner in Portsmouth. A Master within his own right,gentleman, a good listener, a strong advocate of fair play for all. Not only will he be of great loss to our Association and the organisations he was involved in. Rest in Peace Brother.Stb.
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Robert Lawrence

I was saddened to read of the passing of Peter. He was a very good boss to me and others, the last commission on the old Ark Royal would not have been the same without him. A firm but fair boss. I was running one discharge section for the decommission on our return to Guz, I soon learnt that you had to use, black carbon paper that did not rub off on your hands, the blue that came with the warrant books was not to his liking. He also came to sea with us on the new Ark Royal as my (Father) the only way he could get an invite on the first family’s day. So many memories, so many smiles, what a man, we will truly miss him. RIP my fried, RIP.
Robert and Velvet
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Andrew Matthews
This is sad news, one of the "legends" has crossed the bar. I didn't know Peter well, but I met him on few occasions, mainly through his son, Steve. He always had a kind word to say and a dit to spin and I know he was well loved within "our" Regulating family. My thoughts are with his family at this sad time.
Andrew Matthews
MAA, RNP SIB
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Ron Mudie

I never got the opportunity to serve with Peter but knew him on a friendship basis in Portsmouth. I had the honour to serve him a pint in the bar of the RNPHQ. in Helensbugh, 1969, when he appeared for a visit and proved, even then, to be a really nice guy. All the best Peter
Ron
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Dean Oakey
I was saddened to hear the news yesterday about Peter Robertson, I have very fond memories of him when he used to present the student prizes at the Regulating School. He was always an inspiration and great ambassador for the branch and the RBA. He will be sorely missed.
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Bob Dominick
It was with shock that I read of the news of Peter as I clicked on to the Forum this morning, the sight of the headline had a huge impact on me.

To me, Peter was an icon of the Regulating Branch and for that matter, the RBA. I first came into contact with him at Whale Island and, from his image alone he seemed to be the perfect representation of my interpretation of what a "Regulator" should look like. He commanded both authority and respect.

Over the years, as I grew to know "Robbie" a bit better, I came to see and understand a little more of his "non-Regulating" side. A very devoted family man and a very sincere and honest human being.

One of my fondest memories of Peter arose from my first visit to an RBA reunion, I think in 2004, when I flew over from Vancouver. Peter took the time to sit down and have a long chat with me, one that I really enjoyed. Simple things like that mean a lot and it made a long journey worthwhile.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Peter's family, it goes without saying how much he will be missed.

How can I sum up Peter in one sentence, like this I guess......."Peter you were a legend in our branch and a legend in our association and the nice things about legends is they never die".
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Alex McBride
I had the pleasure of meeting Peter some 25 years ago whilst visiting his pub with members of the Naval Patrol Headquarters Invera Gardens London
in the company of Colin Gent and others I then met him on occasions at the royal tournament Peter was always a pleasure to speak to and the esteem he held the the regulating branch in was more than notable to a brown job, the association have lost a vice president, the regulating branch an ex FMA the rest who knew Peter a true gent the mould has certainly now been well and truly broken.
R.I.P. Robbie

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Bob Thornhill
I was sad to hear the news that Peter Robertson(Robbie) had crossed the bar, he will be solely missed by us all.
Although I did not serve with him, I can remember meeting him during my Regulating Branch career & also having a drink with him in his Pub at old Portsmouth, he always made us welcome.
R.J. Thornhill
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Ralph Scott
I served with Peter on the Antrim, and have fond memories of our time together. He was a good boss. He will be missed by all those who knew him
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Bob Bloomfield

It was through Peter that I transferred to the Branch in 1962. I was the MAA runner and ships bugler at Yeovilton and big Robbie was one of the Leading Patrolmen. I was only aged 20 and he persuaded me that the Reg Branch was the best one in the RN. He was not wrong!. We then met up from time to time. Another experience was going to drink in the Pembroke Tavern where he was of course the landlord. A lovely man. I once also vetted his son Kevin at HMS Collingwood when he was a Commander and the OIC SCU Leydene building.
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Des Briggs

"Peter was one of the three WOMAA I worked for as a L.Reg on Ark Royal 76-78; Tom Wilkinson, Bob Ness and finally Peter Robertson. They all had a different style but I gained much from the experience of working with each of them which stood me in good stead for the future. I then got to know Peter and Betty through the Masonic organization when Barbara and I moved to Portsmouth in 1990 and I was appointed WOMAA at RNRS. On our retirement to Portugal in 2000, Peter and his family visited us a few times whilst he was on holiday; happy days. A persuasive man, he was always the perfect gentleman and certainly had a way with words that could make you feel great or stop you in your tracks. Our thoughts are with Peter’s family at this sad time. The ladies song will never be the same. With fond memories". Des & Barbara
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Nigel Carpenter

“ I was fortunate to be one of a number of regulators who served under Peter as an RPO when he was (as Des Briggs mentioned too) my third WOMAA in Ark Royal, behind Tom Wilkinson and Bob Ness. As long as you worked hard uncomplainingly he would mentor you with such wisdom and I learned so much under his tutelage. Mostly, I learned the value of common sense and in particular humility, and his support and enthusiasm for my aspiration to become a Provost Marshal was freely given to the point that he derived great satisfaction from my subsequent achievements. Through mine and Kay’s regular Sunday lunchtime Stellafests, and over the years through membership of RBA93 I had pleasure in all my interaction with Peter – he was an absolute giant in every sense of the word, and will be sorely missed. My sincere condolences to Betty and the whole family.”
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Ron Stainer

Big in stature Big in heart Big in character understanding and sympathetic, truly wonderful man and loyal friend to many many people from all walks of life, and I count myself lucky to be one of them. I met Robbie as an RPO instructor when I was an RPO (Q) in 64. I got to know him better on joining the RAOB, whenever he was in the chair he would raise more ds than anyone!
In September 73 he and many other regulators and their wives attended my first wife’s funeral, afterwards he kindly invited me to join him and Bob Ness and wives at the Spotted Cow I accepted and have never forgotten the kindness I was shown to this day.
In 1975 on leaving my stint as jaunty of Diomede I was to be drafted to Victory (now Nelson). Robbie as FMAA at Dryad got to know and invited me to join him at the country club as his MAA how could I refuse!! I had married and had a very young baby having sold my house and waiting for my new house to be built he was able to arrange a Dryad MQ for me what a relief I ended my time there one of if not the best drafts in my career.
In early 1993 I met him in Fareham with Betty and told me he and Darby Allon another fine jaunty along with others were going to resurrect The RBA and invited me to join as Social Sec (if elected at the formation meeting he remembered the many happy social occasions when I ran the Reg Staff Mess in Excellent. At our first RBA (93) social I organised was held in Kingston Crescent Police Club Darby Allon was elected chairman Robbie vice Chairman Pat Doubleday, Treasurer, Nobby Hall Slops and myself as social secretary, I guess we have never looked back since.
I personally owe an awful lot to Peter Robertson he made an everlasting impression on me and it was not from a boot up the arse. He was a leading light in my life and I am sure in the hundreds of others fortunate enough to share in this great man’s life at work or at play.
He will be sadly missed by all.
My heartfelt condolences to Betty and Family
Ron Stainer
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Tim Lane
I first met Peter Robertson when he was FMAA on HMS Fearless and visited the Provost Mess for a lunchtime visit. Then as always he was a proud confident professional and a wonderful Ambassador for the Regulating Branch and later, our Association.

As a temporoary New York City transplant, Peter as RBA President had the kindness and courtesy to contact me as the sad events of 9/11 unfolded exactly 10 years ago. He had kind works of encouragement and wished me well.

I have always cherished Peters telephone call, a treasure that will not be forgotten.
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Malcolm Smith
Peter was my Instructor for my RPO's Course in 1968 before I went off to Neptune. I have known him for many years as we often met up at various Masonic Meetings, he was a very big name in the RN and Regulating Branch and a very big name in Freemasonry. I'm sure we will all miss him greatly
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Brian Richardson
What a shock I was only talking to him a couple of weeks ago asking him to send me more raffle tickets which he organised. A boss I will always remember a person who made life on the Ark very pleasant. Peter you old devil I will have to buy my own beer this reunion but i will think of you while drinking it. To dear Betty my thoughts are with you.
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Moira Fisher
So sad to hear the news of another giant from our branch taken from us so suddenly. I never served with him but often heard so many stories of admiration, respect, knowledge and humour of this man. Condolences to his family and of course a safe anchorage on 23 Sep 2011.
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Monty Toms

I’ve known Peter I suppose, for 40 years. And over those years, there’s been more than a couple of times, when it’s not been to my welfare. The first time he put me at a disadvantage was about 1982, when we were shooting a naval training film depicting the correct procedures for the arrest of a drunken senior rating. The film was shot in the Pembroke Arms, with Peter, [in his usual ebullient manner], directing the Director! Of course, yours truly played the imbibed PO Stoker with Peter giving me ‘on set’ acting lessons. The [real] Director asked for several takes of one scene, [among others], and Peter, who had also taken over the role of Continuity made sure my pint glass was fully charged between takes.
After about 3 hours shooting, the time came for me to be filmed being hoisted into the patrol wagon for the trip to cells. I can honestly state here and now, I was not acting when I was mumbling, shouting and singing in the back of that wagon on the way back to Nelson!

The second time he came into my life, I’d left the Pusser and was working for an advertising agency as a designer/illustrator in Majorca. My parents also lived on the island. I received a phone call one day from my Mum at my flat in Palma.
‘A chap called Peter Robertson has phoned. He wants to know if you’ll be hear tomorrow, as he’s dropping in with some friends’?
I couldn’t for the life of me think who it was, but thought I’d better go over as it might be work.
Who should turn up, with a couple of mates but our Peter! Where he got my parents number from I still don’t know? In his usual bluff manner, he plonked himself in the best chair on the terrace and said, ‘Yes, I’ll have a glass of red wine then.’ My mum served him drinks, then more drinks, then made him lunch, then more drinks and then she made him tea, whilst my Dad shot down the village and replenished the wine. We finally managed to eject him him and his mates as the moon rose.
He told me in later years it was one of the best days of his life and he was never at such great ease as he was that day.

Last year, I went on the Annual Army/Navy game with him to Twickenham. I sat with him in the stands and we chatted about this and that and afterwards he asked me to walk him back to the coach. On the way out of the stadium we saw a group of about 15, mixed service police being briefed by a young female RN lieutenant, who couldn’t have been older than 25. I stopped and introduced Peter to the group, telling them who he was. I could see his chest visibly swelling with pride. And I think they could see it too. The respect from them hung heavy in the air.
I last saw Peter & Betty in early August. They were looking forward to their cruise and Peter was relating tales of his family. Still bluff, terse and no nonsense Peter….but I think a few of us saw through him for the compassionate and caring gentleman he was.

Monty Toms
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Nia Michael
Am so sorry to read on the website this evening of the sad loss of Peter Robertson.
I checked the website today and really had to drop you a line, to say this wonderful man will be sorely missed.
Who will give me a big x and hairy hug now?
My sincere sympathy to family and friends.
My heart goes out to you.
Loved ones never fade away for in your heart they always stay
All my love Nia Michael (ex RPO Wren)
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Roy Muday
Sad to hear of Peters crossing the bar. I served for a short while at Dryad when his caravan was used as the Reg Mess. Rest in peace
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Willie Dick

Now that our family friend Peter is now at rest I would like to put down in writing of my friendship with him and Betty
I first met Peter when I was serving in Rosyth as a Leading Reg. he was on a ship that was visiting, he telephoned the Patrol HQ and asked for a lift to the Reg Staff Mess. On arrival I met this very large a man who was large both in stature and presence.
The next time that are paths crossed was at the time I was serving on the Antrim and started frequenting the Cambridge and subsequently the Pembroke when he became the Licensee of the Pembroke in Old Portsmouth. I soon was able to get my feet under the table, being allowed to stay there at weekends, and soon found that Betty had become my second mother. Throughout my time in the branch later as an RPO and then MAA, Peter and Betty have always been there to support me and was always willing to offer support and guidance whenever it was needed.
The Pembroke became part of my life, I met my wife Michele there, Peter acted as my best man at the wedding, much to our pleasure, Michele's daughter was courted by Peter and Betty's son Steven and marriage soon completed the circle and we all became a greater family group.
Because of these strong ties our families have always been close, sharing many social events together regularly throughout the year.
We as a family will miss this man a great deal, his passing will leave a large gap in our lives, which will be difficult to fill.

Rest in Peace my friend - Willie
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