RWPMW – the family

RWPMW wrote the following account of his life towards the end of 2001. Towards the end of 2008, as he approached his eighty first birthday,  he had another seven years to account for. His notes on this period are appended to the 2001 text which is more or less in its original form.

The full text of Peter’s autiobiography has been broken into several chapters.  The flow through the original document is as follows

RWPMW – the early years

RWPMW – the early working years

RWPMW – the highlight years

RWPMW – the family

RWPMW – the holidays

RWPMW – 1987 onwards


My family

However before giving a blow by blow account of retirement I should say something of family life in Abingdon before the children left home which happened about the same time as I retired.

When we moved to Abingdon in the autumn of 1965 Tessa had already started at the Manor School (an independent school — fee-paying) and Fiona soon joined her. Gavin had only just been born and when he was old enough started at the local state school called Carswell. When Tessa had completed her primary education where she did well we decided despite her being offered a free place at the independent school connected with the Manor that she would do better at the state school called John Mason. Her great friend Madeleine Colvin did the same. I still agonise over this decision. Tessa was a bit of a teenage rebel and certainly left school with lower qualifications than she was capable of. Fiona, a year behind Tessa, stayed on at St Helen’s school and did well. Gavin moved from Carswell to the local state school called Larkmead. Gavin developed confidence in the final two years of school and left with three A levels, enough to secure a place at higher education. He was also made head boy in his final year of school.

Tessa’s first career was as a secretary, joining a consumer data analysis firm in Oxford called Neilson. During this period she joined the Queens Alexandra Royal Nursing corp with the territorial army as a part time soldier. After a few years she made a change of career and started training as a nurse through Reading hospital.

After Tessa met her now husband Pete Slater, a mental health nurse, they moved to Sheffield in early 1985 and married later that same year. Pete then changed his job to one in the Oxford area so they moved to Abingdon at the end of 1986, and have been there ever since (2002). Hannah was born on 1989 Aug. 22 and Jamie on 1992 May 21. It has been one of our greatest pleasures to watch them growing up and seeing them on a weekly basis.

Fiona worked well at school and left with good qualifications to start a course in Catering Management at Huddersfield. With that under her belt she set off to see Europe by Inter-rail. She tried various jobs in Germany, France and Italy where she was able to indulge her love of skiing. It was lovely at this stage to see her develop from a rather shy school girl to a self-assured young adult. Eventually she tired of this life and came home to train in Abingdon as a personal assistant at the local college of further education. She took a job in London with Guinness and seemed to do well rising to be senior secretary in a busy office in the centre of the city. She met Wouter van Galen while skiing and they got married in Holland and then further celebrations at home. For a while they lived in Wandsworth, London and then moved back to Abingdon where Wout got a job driving for a local builders merchant. Having settled into their new house Jack was born on 1997 Dec. 31 with Leo following on 1999 Sep. 30. So Joy and I got four grand children living within walking distance.

Gavin having completed his school education went on to first Leicester Polytechnic (later to become The Demontfort University) then Loughborough where he studied for a Design and Technology degree. His great love when he was there was the student radio station of which he became manager. When he had completed his degree he tried to stay on but another student beat him in the election to the job. He went on to do a short course at the Cranfield Business School and contemplated starting a tour company before taking a job with the Automobile Association in the department which reported on road conditions. He became a familiar figure on radio and later television reporting on various traffic snarl-ups. At this stage he met Emily Burnett with whom he shared a flat and then they got married. Shortly after that Gavin got a new job with a company called Communicopia which worked on providing communications both within companies and with the outside world. Recently (2002) he is working on a project to enable people who want to, to interrogate a database to make a first cut at a diagnosis of some complaint. This is being done in association with the National Health Service. Emily trained as a nurse, and then as a a midwife. In London she worked at a specialist centre at Kings College Hospital diagnosing and treating the most serious of conditions in unborn children. They have three boys born thus: Felix on 1997 Sep. 27, Harry and Angus (twins) on 2000 Jan. 13. They live in Hove quite close to Emily’s parents and within cycling distance of Gavin’s work place. So that is where our family stands at the end of 2001.