Funeral of Stevenage ‘legend’ ceramics teacher Peter Warren
7:30 a.m. August 10, 2022
09:31 10 August 2022
Family and friends gathered for the funeral of a retired high school ceramics teacher hailed as “a legend” by many of his former students.
Peter Warren taught ceramics at Collenswood School in Stevenage from 1969 until his retirement in 2006.
He died on July 11, aged 77, leaving behind his wife Daphne, daughters Claire and Anne and grandchildren Harrison, Miriam and Leonardo.
“Over the years, Peter has taught three generations of students – his quick wit and playful sense of humor entertaining and inspiring them along the way,” said Peter’s eulogy, which reads is held yesterday (Tuesday) at St Mary’s Church in Hitchin.
“He was firm but fair, the lessons were practical and a lot of fun. Thousands of piggy banks have been produced and cherished by 7 years.”
Peter had studied at Manchester High School of Art, where he flourished and eventually became Head Boy. “He took his duties as prefect very seriously,” the eulogy read. “Once he tried to escort a dodgy-looking man off the school premises. It turned out he was [the renowned English artist] LS Lowry, who was visiting his good friend the manager.”
Peter then studied ceramics at Camberwell College of Arts and Crafts for four years. After completing his teacher training, he accepted a one-year contract at Stevenage’s Collenswood School. It was later made permanent and Peter remained at the school until his retirement 37 years later.
Outside the classroom, “Peter was tenacious on the football field, sang and played banjo on stage and always had time to stop and talk,” his eulogy said. He played an active role in the teachers’ union, the NASUWT. In 1979, he became Stevenage’s secretary and became known for his humorous answering machine messages explaining why he couldn’t pick up the phone!
Peter and Daphne married in 1984 and had two daughters, Claire and Anne. A fond memory from their childhood was enjoying bath time with their dad playing the banjo and singing classics like “They Built the Ship Titanic.”
Peter became chairman of the governors of his daughters’ primary school – Ashtree in Stevenage – and won Model of the Year at the Comet Community Awards in 2005.
He had been nominated by Collenswood colleagues Jon Berry and Di Bennett. “As a role model, you can’t beat Peter,” Jon said at the time.
“He is unfailingly polite to everyone who crosses his path” and “thousands of young people have left Collenswood knowing that the care and personal attention given to them by Peter Warren has improved their lives”.
Peter retired in 2006 and set up a studio, complete with oven, in his garden.
In 2011, Daphne and her nephew, James, successfully persuaded a very reluctant Peter to leave Stevenage and move to Clifton – provided his studio went with him.
“There followed 10 glorious years,” Daphne said. Peter joined Anglian Potters and has featured his work in numerous exhibitions, galleries and craft fairs, as well as becoming editor of the Anglian Potters newsletter.
In March 2020, Peter was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. “Despite the progressive limitations of the condition, he remained positive, determined and productive,” his eulogy said.
“Peter loved his family and always told people about his grandchildren. They brought him great joy. Peter never lost his sense of humor and sang ‘He’ll be Coming Round the Mountain’ to his little ones -children when he descended the stairs on his stairlift.
He would trick them with his collapsible cane and they loved his demonstrations of his remote-controlled recliner.
“Peter will be greatly missed and remembered as many of his former students described him – as a ‘legend’.”