It is with great sadness that we heard our learner and friend, Peter Wilkinson, passed away last week. Since hearing the news, we have been thinking of how to pay tribute to him in a way that would do him justice. No words will.
Peter joined our Cherry Tree group in 2011. When our founder Anne Wallace, did her own bit of community organising one rainy Wednesday by knocking on the door of residents on Cherry Tree estate. Peter answered one of the doors.
He had attended a few computer sessions at the library but didn’t feel that he could get to grips with it. He really wanted to get the hang of it to Skype his son, Greg, who lived in Canada.
That was in 2011 and he still attended sessions up until last week. What was magical about Peter was his ferocity to learn. He knew that the internet was his key to great things. With family in New Zealand and Canada it opened up a new world to him.
In 2014, Peter became on of the faces of the National Get Online Week campaign; from this point a star was born. It has to be said he remained a bit gutted that his face didn’t appear on the side of busses.
He attended the weekly sessions for over 5 years and we all know he was perfectly competent using a computer but loved being part of the group. I think that is what is really special about Starting Point. We aren’t about funding and learning outcomes, we are about family and supporting one another. If you are a kind person, we will be there for you for as long as you need us to be.
Peter talked about two things: bowling and Greg. His pride in his son’s achievement of playing in a band and his love of bowling was something that no one was able to miss when attending sessions with Peter! Just ask Ryan when we tagged along that evening.
When his partner, Beryl became a digital champion; Peter still buried his head in worksheets and websites absorbing all there was to know.
It makes me feel really proud that we were able to support him to reach his family when, as we now know, visiting was never going to be an option. My respect and admiration of our trainer Julie, is already unmeasurable. I think Beryl will let me say that we all know he often tested Julie’s patience, and I often exchanged the rolling of eyes with Beryl. Julie should be extremely proud of the opportunities that she gave not only Peter, but those learners that she continues to support.
But it doesn’t stop there. Today Beryl told us that there won’t be much of fuss after his funeral. Well Peter would have wanted that. The Cherry Well that was rejuvenated by a small group within the Cherry Tree community working with Laura during her time as a trainee community organiser; will hopefully play host to our last gift to Peter. As a group of strangers became a group of friends, we will come together to throw a party for him. We will also continue to be there for Beryl for as long as she needs us too.
We might even buy the food online.
So long Peter, we will miss you x
About Cherry Tree featuring Peter: