Tribute: Chris Peeler

Christopher Henry Peeler (January 1, 1936 – 17 September, 2023)

Chris was born in London on 1 January 1936 to Edward and Majorie Peeler, the youngest of their five children. The family’s move during the Second World War to Stratford upon Avon was the catalyst for Chris’ lifelong love of nature. They moved back to Raynes Park after the war, where Chris attended Wimbledon College, a Jesuit-run grammar school. On leaving school, he undertook national service and studied Russian at the Joint Services School for Linguists in Bodmin (other alumni include the writer Alan Bennett), before a posting to Germany.

Chris went up to Magdalene College, Cambridge, in 1956 to study natural sciences and agriculture. On graduation in 1960 he joined the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, started work at Gleadthorpe experimental husbandry farm, Nottinghamshire, where he was soon joined by Mary (née Hull) after their marriage in 1961.

In late 1964 the opportunity arose of a secondment at the National Agricultural Laboratory in Nairobi, Kenya. Chris and Mary took the bold step of moving with their two young sons, Andrew and Edmund, to the newly independent country. They made the most of their time in Africa, spending holidays and weekends on safari or at the coast, a far cry from Nottinghamshire. They returned to the UK in 1967 where Chris was posted to the Agricultural Advisory Service (ADAS) office in Stoke Mandeville. They bought their first home in Weston Turville, where their daughter Ruth was born.

In 1973, Chris moved from the Ministry to work at the National Farmers Union in London. In the same year, the family moved to Lionel Avenue in Wendover. Chris furthered his career by taking a degree in economics with the Open University, studying on his daily train commute to London. He stayed at the NFU for the rest of his working life.

Chris had many interests and pursuits. He was a keen linguist and with a good working knowledge of French and German. He was well equipped and always happy to help his children with their studies. For many years he enjoyed fermenting both beer and yoghurt, which he was always more than willing to share with visitors! Bridge was the mainstay of Chris and Mary’s social life. They were stalwarts of Wendover Bridge Club for many years, and organised frequent bridge evenings at home.

Chris devoted much time to his garden, which had been extended through the purchase of farmland behind the house. He planted many fruit and ornamental trees and established extensive vegetable beds. Chris and Mary enjoyed travelling, holidaying across Europe, and further afield to Kenya, the US and New Zealand to visit family.

Retirement in 1996 allowed Chris to become more heavily involved in village activities. He became a governor of Wendover Middle School, a parish councillor, started a U3A Italian group, campaigned for cycle lanes and was an active supporter of the Wendover Society and the local BBOWT branch. Chris and Mary also had more time to travel, taking cruises down the Rhine and Volga, and visiting the Galapagos islands with their close friends, Jim and Rosemary Waller.

For Chris, family came above everything else. He was close to his four siblings who he saw regularly at family walks and reunions. He and Mary were devoted to their grandchildren and always willing to have them stay, and in turn, they were always happy to spend time with their much-loved grandparents. In his own undemonstrative way, he was quietly proud of all his family.

Chris spent the last year of his life with Mary at Cherry Tree House Nursing Home in Wendover. The move from their family home of almost 50 years was hard but eased by frequent visits from family and friends. Chris was loved by many and will be sorely missed. He leaves a wife, Mary, children, Andrew, Edmund and Ruth and grandchildren, Ben, Angus, Georgia, Joe, Megan, Ellen and Hannah.

Edmund Peeler