Obituary - Peter Tyrer 1947-2011

6th January 2012 at 00:00

Peter Tyrer's entire life was devoted to helping the disadvantaged, whether he was working as a special needs teacher, setting up his own charity or opening his home to anyone who needed help and support.

Peter Tyrer was born in February 1947 and his family moved to Merseyside soon afterwards. From a young age he believed in the need to work on behalf of the underdog. And so, after completing an Open University degree, he trained as a special needs teacher. He spent several years in Merseyside schools, eventually qualifying as a guidance counsellor as well. While many teachers saw his pupils as non-achievers, he did not believe in giving up on people - he felt it was his duty to bring out their strengths.

With the breakdown of his first marriage, he left Merseyside and teaching, taking a job with Oxfam in Bristol. As area organiser, he managed the charity's shops, fundraising and education in the South West.

Among the Oxfam volunteers during this period was Dee Horne. She and Mr Tyrer married in 1987 and went on to have two children, Becky and Adam.

The key to successful fundraising, he always said, was to drop the "d" from "fund". This often led to unplanned incidents. There was, for example, the occasion when a student volunteer decided to play with handcuffs that had been donated to an Oxfam shop and had to be cut free with an acetylene torch. And there was the time that Mr Tyrer demonstrated Oxfam's sanitation units for TV cameras and was left with thousands of gallons of unwanted water that no one would take off his hands.

Eventually, he was appointed Oxfam fundraising director, and the family relocated to Oxfordshire. He and Dee then set up a charity consultancy, working with NGOs such as the Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity.

They also established their own charity, African Children's Fund, to focus on the small-scale programmes in developing countries that were often overlooked by larger charities.

Mr Tyrer's philosophy was that there was no point in complaining about things: you need to go out and change them yourself. The Tyrer home was open to anyone who needed help. And Mr Tyrer became chair of governors at his local village school, organising pen-pal schemes between its pupils and their counterparts in Africa.

Whenever African visitors came to stay, he would make sure they called in on the primary. On one occasion, visiting Masai warriors borrowed his children's bikes, cycling through the small Cotswolds village in full tribal regalia. He also made regular trips to Africa, visiting his charity's projects several times a year. He was in Nairobi this autumn when his car was involved in a crash. He died on 18 November.

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