TRIBUTES have been paid to an accomplished campanologist and respected engineer.
Peter Brewer MBE, who has died aged 94, was a key figure in the refurbishment of St Leonard’s Church, the Clock Tower, in Newton Abbot town centre.
As a renowned bell ringer, he played a major role in working to restore the bell tower and the bells and took part in the first peel of bells to be rung at the Clock Tower when the refurbishment project was completed in 1973.
His MBE was earned for his services to Devon’s highways in his role as a road surveyor for Devon County Council for whom he worked his entire career.
After his retirement, he was also a volunteer at Newton Abbot Hospital for 10 years, helping patients to appointments, for which he was awarded an NHS staff hero award.
Born in Chagford to parents Wilfred and Dora, Peter lived in various villages and towns including Chudleigh, Totnes and Newton Abbot, as his father was a police officer.
His mother was an excellent pianist, and in her younger days she played the piano to accompany silent films, mainly at Dartmouth Cinema.
Peter married wife Marguerite, a nurse at Torbay Hospital, in 1956 at Christ Church in Paignton.
She served as a Justice of the Peace in the Newton Abbot and Teignbridge regions and was a prominent member of the Newton Abbot Red Cross for many years.
They were married for 52 years, until her death in 2008.
Peter joined Devon County Council straight from school as an engineering assistant, going on to become a divisional road surveyor responsible for building and maintaining many of the roads that are still very much part of Devon’s network highways.
His family said: ‘He knew every road and lane on Dartmoor, many of which fell under his jurisdiction to maintain.
‘Winters were particularly busy times for him, as he would work throughout many nights coordinating his team of gritting lorries and keeping vital roads open, with Telegraph Hill frequently providing an annual challenge for his team of gritters.
‘One very memorable night was that of December 27, 1979, when the River Lemon burst its banks and decimated the centre of Newton Abbot.
‘Peter worked throughout the night, organising the rescue of flood victims and the clearing of debris when the floods finally subsided.’
As a result of his services to Devon County Council, he was awarded an MBE upon his retirement, and in 1992 he received his award from Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace, proudly accompanied by Marguerite, and their two sons, Michael and John.
As a talented bell ringer, Peter rang competitively and recreationally for Plymstock before the family’s move to Newton Abbot, where he rang for Kingsteignton bell ringers for almost 30 years.
Widely recognised as one of the best ringers in Devon, his mathematical mind made him particularly adept at ‘calling the changes’ for long peels.
He was part of the Kingsteignton team which won the Devon 8-bell Ross Shield on eight occasions.
His death came on the same day Kingsteignton won the shield again.
In the last few months of his life his youngest son Michael took a recording of the Kingsteignton bells to listen to.
During Peter’s long retirement, he and his wife were fundraisers for Rowcroft Hospice.
He was also a member of Newton Abbot Probus Club for many years.
A memorial service will be held on October 17 at 11am at the Chapel of Parkers Funeral Directors, Great Western House, 9 Devon Square Newton Abbot.