Tribute paid to 'cherished' Exmouth swim founder

PUBLISHED: 12:00 26 November 2017

Peter Thorpe, one of the founding participants in the Exmouth Christmas Day swim, has died.

Peter Thorpe, one of the founding participants in the Exmouth Christmas Day swim, has died.


Peter Thorpe was one of the original participants in the first Exmouth Christmas Day swim in 1969.

A tribute has been paid to a ‘cherished’ former Exmouth man who was one of the pioneers behind the town’s Christmas Day swim.

Peter Thorpe had been a bank manager in the town for 17 years and also was a county councillor, chairman of Rolle College and a member of the Exmouth Round Table.

He died surrounded by his family at his Starcross home on Tuesday, November 7.

A spokesman for the family said: “Peter is remembered for his exceptional kindness.

“He was patient, forgiving, encouraging and calm, whether dealing with upset staff or defiant toddlers.

“He embraced life, whatever it brought, tackling opportunity and challenge alike with optimism and humour.

“The mischievous twinkle in his eye delighted everyone to the very end. With his passing, the world has lost one more member of an irreplaceable generation of quietly courageous, self-effacing gentlemen.”

Peter was born in 1927 and grew up in Warminster, where he was evacuated as a boy with his family.

He was a member of the Air Training Corps during World War Two and spent time in India during his time in the Royal Air Force between 1945 and 1949.

In 1954 he met his wife Jean (nee Freeman) at a dance and proposed to her within three weeks of that first meeting.

Peter had joined Lloyds Bank in 1942 and joined the Exmouth branch, which he led for the next 17 years, in 1969.

That year, Peter was one of the people who spearheaded the Christmas Day swim – now an annual tradition on Exmouth sea front. He was also one of the first to take part, alongside six others.

During his time in Exmouth, Peter was county councillor, treasurer of Exe Sailing Club and the Cranford Sports Club, as well as serving on the board of Rolle College for more than 10 years.

He is survived by his twin brother John Thorpe, wife of 62 years Jean, his children Carolyn Pashby, Alison Littlejohn, Sarah Hayward, Clive Thorpe and Helen Gullo.

He also has 15 grandchildren and great grandchildren across England, Canada and the United States.

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