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Deaths & Obituaries


Peter Edward Rickitt 1947-2019 (E 60-64) 

Peter Rickitt (Evans 60-64) sadly passed away on 15th January. As well was being an OS he was a Sedbergh parent and a Foundation Trustee. His support of the School enabled the Foundation to flourish in its early years. Outside of the School, he was largely known for his work in the corporate finance market in the North West from the 1970s, his joie de vivre and his interest in motor vehicles of all shapes and sizes! Peter suffered from poor health in recent years, but despite his decreasing ability to visit Sedbergh, remained a staunch supporter of the School.


Peter Allen 1935-2018 (Teacher, Chaplain and Second Master at Sedbergh 87-93)

Peter sadly passed away on December 25th, 2018. A Memorial Service was held in celebration of his life at St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh on Friday 3rd February. Information from the Diocese of Edinburgh, written prior to his funeral, can be read below.

“As many will already know, the Cathedral sadly lost a most loyal congregational member, and one of its dearest friends in the Rev’d Canon Peter Allen, who passed away peacefully in his sleep in the evening of Christmas Day, after a cordial Christmas Day with his family in Somerset. There will be a private committal for Peter’s family in Somerset this Friday (18th January). To celebrate Peter’s life, the Cathedral will be hosting a Memorial Evensong for Peter on Sunday 3rd of February, at 3.30pm, followed by a reception in the Walpole Hall. All are welcome to join us for this service of thanksgiving. We would be very grateful if you could send in any of your memories or photos of Peter to, so that we can display them at the reception after the service, and incorporate them, as appropriate, in the words offered at the Memorial Evensong. We hope these and the service pay some tribute to his long life and career in Canterbury, Cambridge, Sedbergh and Edinburgh.

As well as the Cathedral service, there will also be a public Service of Thanksgiving at Holy Trinity, Sutton Montis, at 2pm on Thursday 31st January.

The number of calls and emails which have flooded into the Cathedral Office indicate the love and affection in which Peter was held, and how dearly he will be missed. Peter was a big part of many people’s lives, and we look forward to celebrating him with you in the Cathedral.”


Peter M Hutchinson 1937-2018 (H 51-55) – Obituary by Sarah Stirling (BMC)

Peter Hutchinson, founder of the brands Mountain Equipment and then PHD, passed away on Friday 2 November 2018, aged 81. Peter was hands-on at the forefront of outdoor down gear manufacture from the very beginning of the industry until the modern day. When other outdoor brands grew big and moved production overseas, Peter saw a different way. A more sustainable and personal way.

At the beginning of his career, Peter made the first-ever down suit in collaboration with Don Whillans – it was worn on the South West Face of Everest expeditions in ’73 and ’75. Along the way he also clothed Boardman, Tasker, Scott, Haston, Bonington, Carrington, Cave, Parnell, Penington and many more besides. He clothed Rosie Swale-Pope for her run around the world. Ralph Fiennes for his coldest journey. He also made down jackets for the Avengers, Tom Cruise and Madonna. These heroes sought him out, not the other way around. Pete was just interested in making the best down gear for anyone and didn’t like to advertise – he preferred word of mouth.

I first interviewed Peter in 2014 for Summit magazine, after hearing a story. A friend told me he had been surprised, after ordering a sleeping bag from PHD back in 2001, to receive an email from Peter himself: “He was concerned I wasn’t getting quite the right bag for my needs. We came up with various modifications to suit exactly what I wanted.”

Intrigued, I got in touch with Peter to find out more about him. When he came of the army in ’57, he told me, Britain’s outdoor industry was in its infancy and our first National Parks had just opened. Blacks had moved from sailcloth to tent manufacture and Karrimor had started making cycling gear above a bike shop. That was about all we had. Most outdoor gear was imported from mountainous countries that already had outdoor industries, like the Alps and Scandinavia.

“When I came out of the army, I bought the best tent on the market – made by Blacks,” he told me. “As for hardware, we either paid a lot for European pegs, chocks and krabs back then, or made them ourselves.”

In a move that, not for the first time, showed him as a fresh thinker, Pete left uni and set up one of Britain’s very first outdoor gear manufacturing companies. Well, to begin with it wasn’t exactly a company. He would clean out cattle sheds in the mornings to pay for his rent and food, then stitch up a sleeping bag in the small farm shack he lived in.

One of Pete’s favourite stories was that Yvon Chouinard “Flew over, scared that I was a competitor. When he turned up and found two dirty guys heating up pegs in the fireplace and drying down in the oven I think he realised he didn’t have much to worry about.”

“But In 1969,” he continued, “I was asked by Brigham’s [yes, a relation of Ellis Brighams to make a batch of sleeping bags – my first trade order. I opened a small premises called Mountain Equipment in Glossop in 1970.”

Pete wasn’t focussed solely on down gear back then. Around this time he, along with the ‘Berghaus lads’, as he called them, was one of the first to work with this new thing – Gore-Tex. He also made hardware. In a brilliant article about him, Andy Kirkpatrick writes that Peter’s apprentice was “a young Demy Moorhouse (who would later take the skills he learned with Pete and set up Clog and then DMM).”

Others Brits began making outdoor gear too — the ‘70s to ‘90s being the Golden Era of outdoor gear manufacture in Britain, when the founders of our classic outdoor gear companies like Berghaus, Rab, DMM and Karrimor walked their own factory floors and were in hot competition. Then, in the ‘90s, China opened up to foreign investment and capitalism. Investors began buying Britain’s manufacturing companies and ‘off-shoring’ production to benefit from cheap labour in China.

Like many of the other founders, Peter felt conflicted by his business’s growth and the loss of his factory floor – none of them had ever intended on being businessmen: “Instead of listening to climbers I had designers telling me about next year’s colours.” This was quite a change for someone who once tested gear destined for Makalu by sleeping in it in a deep freeze.

As China developed into the ‘World’s Factory’, prices, quite rightly, began to go up. To keep their costs low, outdoor gear companies had to place bigger orders. All this contributed to our disposable society. As prices kept rising, Western companies sought out cheaper labour in other countries. But where does it end, and what about the carbon footprint?

A few years ago, a government study suggested that manufacturing industries could regrow in Britain if companies found a good niche, and suggested high-quality products, specifically tailored to customer demand, made to order, at speed.

One man was ahead of the game here. Peter had sold Mountain Equipment in 1997, and set up a small factory in an old mill not far from his original farm shack, called Peter Hutchinson Designs (PHD), where he employed local people and made down products in small batches, and as custom-made designs. He bought as much of the materials as possible in Europe.

As Peter told Andy Kirkpatrick: “Nearly everything you buy in a climbing shop is made abroad, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but there’s no flexibility. I saw that there was increasing room for the specialist. I saw that I could start again from scratch and avoid making those same mistakes again.”

Until he retired, Peter was on the shop floor, where he loved to be – helping design, pattern-cut and respond to enquiries. Then, in 2009, Peter Elliot took over as Managing Director, and I can confirm that the Peter Hutchinson philosophy is still alive and well under his stewardship.

In 2015 I contacted PHD to ask if they made down duvets. I thought it would be a great lightweight option for a cycle touring trip. Peter Elliot wrote back to tell me that he liked the idea. If PHD made one, would I test it out? I took the sleeping bag to New Zealand, and on my return, gave my feedback. I thought it would be great if the sleeping bag had poppers on it, so you could attach two of the down duvets together to make a double sleeping bag. You can now buy these down duvets on PHD’s website. Have you experienced a feedback loop like this with any other outdoor gear brand?

What a special company, and a special man.


David Blanche 1933-2018 (P 47-51)

David was an all-rounder, musically a wonderful pianist and he loved all sports, especially cricket which he continued playing after leaving Sedbergh. He excelled at cross country running and in his early teens his parents received a telegram from Mrs Cooper notifying them that David had won the three mile cross country race in an incredible eighteen and a half minutes!

After leaving Sedbergh, David enlisted for national service and was sent to Egypt for 14 months, on returning home he joined the family business “MacLachlans Ltd” a brewers, distillers, wine and spirit merchants in Glasgow, before moving on to manage “ Greenock Apothecaries and Lawsons Ltd” a soft drinks company, for over twenty five years.

After a busy and hugely successful business life David’s retirement gave him the time to enjoy his two favourite pastimes- golfing and fishing. He liked nothing better than driving his Alvis down to Prestwick on a sunny day for a round of golf or heading north to fish on any of the great salmon rivers in Scotland.

David’s wife of 58 years Mag, their daughter Judy and two granddaughters Heather and Lorna will remember David as a true gentleman, who was loving, caring, extremely generous, with a mischievous sense of humour.



Michael Theodore Broadbent (SH 67-72) February 2019

Donald Barrett Mackay (S 48-53) February 2019

Peter Edward Rickitt (E 60-64) January 2019 – Obituary

Peter Allen (Former Teacher, Chaplain and Second Master 87-93) December 2018 – Obituary

Richard Hugh Thomas (Former Physics Master 67-02) December 2018 – Obituary

Peter M. Hutchinson (H 51-55) November 2018 – Obituary

Zeke (Edward Stuart) Smith (E 46-50) November 2018 – Obituary

James Bruce-Lockhart (SH 54-59) November 2018 – Obituary

David Goodman Blanche (P 47-51) October 2018 – Obituary

David Roy Holmes (L 47-52) September 2018 – Obituary

Charles Graeme Watherston (S 49-53) September 2018

William “Billy” Banks (H 1942-46) September 2018

Graham Smith (H 49-52) August 2018

Sam Barker (E 95-00) August 2018 – Obituary

William L. R. Scott (E 49-53) August 2018

Sir Hugh Cortazzi (S 36-41) August 2018 – Obituary

Michael Grierson (L 57-63) July 2018

Andrew Harton (W 63-69) June 2018 – Obituary

Richard Rossiter (W 48-53) May 2018

Stephen Butcher (W 42-47) May 2018 – Obituary

Timothy “Tim” W. Roberts (L 51-56) April 2018 – Obituary

David Barker (W 36-40) April 2018

Peter Yorke (P 52-57) April 2018 – Obituary

Stuart Paton (H 77-82) March 2018

Professor Robert Cairns Aitken (W 47-51) March 2018 – Obituary

Sir John Ford (SH 35-39) January 2018 – Obituary

Hugh Frederick Lockhart-Ball (E 61-66) December 2017

James Sugden (H 60-64) December 2017 – Obituary

Graham Shepherd (S 42-46) December 2017

Anthony Martin Russell (H 47-52) December 2017

Victor H. Brooke Dowse (Former Schoolmaster and Housemaster of Lupton House 63-00) November 2017 – Obituary

Anthony Craven (S 37-41) November 2017

Michael Bottomley (W 38-43) November 2017

David G S Macmillan (W 49-53) October 2017

John McCracken (S 52-57) October 2017 – Obituary

Stephen Jay (H 40-43) October 2017

Michael Richards (E 44-48) October 2017

Henry Kenneth White (W 38-41) October 2017

George Newby (W 56-59) October 2017

Nigel Hurst (L 74-78) October 2017 – Obituary

Ian H Robinson (P 38-41) September 2017

Alastair Breckenridge (S 55-60) September 2017

Patrick Jolly (L 78-83) September 2017

Leslie “Les” Fletcher (Former School Lab Technician) August 2017

Robert Hodges (SH 81-86) August 2017

Richard ‘Dickie’ Dawe (Former Winder House Tutor 54-73) July 2017 – Obituary

Chris G. Wells (E 60-65) June 2017

Hugh Sugden (SH 62-65) June 2017

William H M Meageen (SH 50-55) May 2017

Philip Robotham (H 79-84) May 2017

JFC Fisher (SH 44-49) May 2017

Peter Meadows (Former Winder Housemaster 59-90) April 2017 – Obituary

Frederic Salkeld Plumpton (P 48-52) March 2017 – Obituary

David Behrend (S 41-45) March 2017 – Obituary (Page 103)

Richard “Rick” Abbott (L 68-73) March 2017

Peter Hyde (H 59-62) March 2017

R.J. Mawby (S 52-57) February 2017

R.D Hardwick (P 55-60) February 2017

Lord David Waddington (W 44-47) February 2017 – Obituary

Garth Roger Nicholas (H 44-49) January 2017 – Obituary (Page 90)

Peter W. Philips (S 47-52) January 2017

Noel W. Berry (SH 55-60) January 2017

William Greenhalgh (P 45-49) January 2017

Sir Christopher Bland (L 51-56) January 2017 – Obituary

Peter M Poole CBE, TD, JP, DL (L 43-46) January 2017 – Obituary

Colin J Sherwood (P 49-52) January 2017

John Gossip (SH 44-49) December 2016

Andrew Philip Bradshaw (W 68-73) December 2016

Peter L Addison (SH 45-49) October 2016

Timothy C Mileson (S 96-03) October 2016

Dr Samuel K Young (H 41-45) October 2016

J Richard Thompson (H 49-54) October 2016

E Douglas D Bell (W 51-56) October 2016

Florian DeVito (S 08-10) November 2016

Michael J Wilson (P 57-62) November 2016

Paul J Page (L 78-83) November 2016 – Obituary

Michael Fowler (H 49-52) July 2016

Tim Venters  (SH 58-63) June 2016

Neil P Magee (L 57-61) April 2016