Peter and I spoke almost daily since I joined the Soil Association PR team in 2012. He would ring, email or text some helpful bit of content or an idea for our press or social media channels. Or very occasionally, to gossip about Lillian’s affair in the Archers or some other controversial happening in Ambridge! I’ve never worked with any campaigner, let alone a policy director, who understood how to work the media like he did. He literally spoke in media soundbites!
He always shared success, never taking the glory for things – even when it was mostly his work. I found this especially entertaining (and endearing) when drafting media lines in my early days at SA. He would ring me up to discuss our media statement on something while I furiously typed what he was saying. When I’d send it round to other colleagues later he would always credit me. “Natasha’s written an excellent statement on X.” he would reply all (he loved a reply all!) and when I bashfully pointed out that he pretty much dictated the whole thing, he’d say “well, you’re the one that got in in the paper”.
“No, you’re the one who did Peter, they wouldn’t take it if we weren’t saying something interesting” I’d say to which he just laughed. I will miss his laugh. It was a common response to many tricky situations we had to navigate in the media.
When we were threatened legal action for a campaign about fake organic beauty products, he just laughed when I told him. When they call in the lawyers, that’s how you know it’s working he said.
He was absolutely unflappable. Always treated everyone with the same professional courtesy, no matter if they were volunteering in the press office or a full-time member of staff. He always took time to explain complex work or history around issues and I learnt so much from working with him.
I’m really going to miss our chats. But like many before me here have said, we’ll all be taking our learnings from him forward on the campaigns he cared so deeply about. So many lives have been touched by him. Not just those who worked with him, but the millions of people affected by the campaigns he worked on.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that he was adored by everyone who has worked in the Soil Association press office since I have been there and he will be truly missed.