Family’s farewell to their ‘intelligent, thinking’ dad

Peter and Dot Witherall
Peter and Dot Witherall

A primary school teacher who took to writing children’s stories as he battled Parkinson’s has died.

Now his family plans to publish some of his stories to raise money for research into the disease.

Peter Witherall, of Tilgate, died at East Surrey Hospital on June 21, aged 63.

Mr Witherall taught for 20 years, first at Pound Hill Middle School and then Yattendon, in Horley.

His family described him as an “intelligent, thinking man, with a sharp, perceptive sense of humour”, adding: “He liked Shakespeare, classical music, long walks and classic British comedies like Dad’s Army and Fawlty Towers.”

Wife Dot, along with sons Andy and Chris and daughter Helen, believed he became a teacher because he loved to share his knowledge as much as he loved to learn new things.

They said: “He was always sharing interesting bits of information, and sometimes seemed to have an encyclopaedic knowledge on a whole variety of topics from art and music, to science and maths.

“He wasn’t pretentious though, and was at his happiest sitting in with the family and spending time with all of us.”

His children spoke of him as a man who always took time to show interest in what they enjoyed when they were growing up – a man who recognised his family as always being his main priority.

Peter and Dot met in 1975 at Birmingham Bible Institute and they married in 1979 – the groom later said he knew very quickly that she was “the one”!

As well as teaching, Peter was a keen musician, proficient with both guitar and piano. He played the church organ at St Barnabas’ Church, in Pound Hill, and Holy Trinity Church, in Tilgate.

His family said: “Even when he was forced to retire through ill health, he still tried to stay active as much as he was able.

“He didn’t like not being able to work, and used to say how much he’d love to be back teaching.”

That determination to stay active not only saw him put pen to paper to write children’s stories; he was also able to marry his passion for foreign languages with his Christian beliefs by volunteering with Wycliffe Bible Translators.

His family have asked for any donations to be made to the organisation via The Martins Funeral Directors.

They added: “The Christian faith is important to the whole family which Wycliffe aim to make accessible to all languages and cultures.”

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