KTC / KCE Reunion

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Peter Nelmes 1943 to 2020.

It's highly unlikely that I would ever have met Pete, had it not been for our arrival as geographers at Stoke Rochford in September 1962. Even that was a result of a series of random accidents. In Pete's case, he arrived from Tredegar via the clearing system, following a 'year-out' after sixth-form, with his school friend Ashton Pinney.
In my case it was simply because my family had insisted that I did need a backup, just in case things didn't all go to plan! Geography lectures led by Reg Hindley and Doc Barrett (and actually enjoyed by the majority of the large dynamic group of students) - together with field-weeks in Swanage and Snowdonia and a cold spring six-week teaching practice in Corby, meant that we had a lot of organised contact as part of our college courses.

But it was music and both of us being guitarists that were to be the catalysts for the enormous amount of time we spent in each other's company. Similar musical tastes prior to our arrival (Everly Bros/Eddie Cochran/Gene Vincent etc) initially played in that much missed (and much maligned) institution - the Grantham Men's Room. Located deep in the bowels of the college (and well away from the eyes of lecturers), we played a wide variety of music. Initially as a duo - and then as a trio with Maggie Cannock during the era of the Kingston Trio and Peter Paul and Mary. That led to performances at the next two years of college Reviews, invites to the music club, background music for the 'Tempest' and even at local working men's clubs at the iron stone quarries organised by college cleaners Mona and Katie.

Pete was also performing with Neil Stokes and Roger Sleath when they started the first rock group at Stoke Rochford the 'Pioneers', playing at college functions, in local villages and across a wide area between Lincoln, Corby and Skegness. After Roger left, he was replaced by Brian Ekin until Easter 1964 - and then I filled in for the next year until Easter 1965. That required us to leave the relative comfort of college-arranged digs and Buckminster hostel and to endure the privations of a shared flat together as 'Day-students'. First above the 'Fiddler' café in Grantham market place for two terms and then in a stone cottage in the village of Barrowby - after which it became necessary to concentrate on final examinations/final TP and the urgent need to find legitimate permanent employment.

And then we all went our separate ways. Pete to Stamford to work in Rutland primary schools for the next 55 years until he passed away in February of this year. Anne (Alderson) and I married in 1966 and taught in Leicestershire high schools until 2009. Pete had a successful career, mostly at Langham primary school where he was deputy head and also acting head for a time. He never really did retire, because he was still teaching children in four different primary schools as a peripatetic music teacher until he passed away. As you would expect, his musical performances were many and varied including performing with Stamford Theatre Arts, singing in with various operatic groups and Folk groups/church groups. He maintained his interest in pop music throughout and performed for many years with 'Wrinkle Rock' playing bass and singing harmony for music from the 60's and 70's until Christmas 2019.

It was at the first college reunion organised in 1999 that we renewed our friendship 34 years older but still recognisable. Since then, we've sung around 50 songs together at the eight subsequent reunion folk-evenings - and met four or five times every year in hostelries around Rutland water with Mike McWhinnie and his wife Mary. Sometimes to play music but more often to reminisce about the past, try to put the world to rights (we failed!) - and especially to enjoy a good meal and a pint (in Pete's case, of iced Coca-Cola!).

Pete never married or had children and I didn't meet his sisters Anne and Judith until recently. So when I arrived in February to finalise what we would sing at the June 2020 reunion, it was a considerable shock to discover that he had collapsed and died only two nights earlier. As always seems to be the case, only since then has it transpired just how well liked and respected he was in Rutland, Stamford and East Leicestershire for his long teaching career - both full and part-time. For his work with primary school cross country/athletics, he received an award from Leicestershire local education authority. As organist of the Ketton C of E church and elsewhere, he would be the first to admit that he was 'still a work in progress' - but he was always happy to be called upon whenever the need arose. Wherever we met for meals, someone he had previously taught would come to speak to him with affection and there was a genuine sense of loss in the voice of the Langham school secretary when I phoned to inform them that he had died. Likewise, he never tired of been asked by toddlers if he was the real Father Christmas - due to his bushy white beard.

Many people will remember him for organising and leading the Sunday walks around Stoke Rochford grounds at reunions, or as a long-serving member of the organising group - as well as for performing every alternate year at the Friday folk evenings or on two occasions when the 'Wrinkle Rock' group played on the Saturday evenings. He was a talented musician and vocalist as well as a much respected teacher. To Anne and I, he was just a good friend and good company. Our thoughts are with his sisters and their families. We will miss him.

Doug and Anne Fanthorpe.
Please note that due to the coronavirus situation, the funeral of Peter Nelmes has been cancelled. Only close family will attend the crematorium service.
Thank you.
NELMES Peter Charles

Passed away on 20th February 2020 aged 76 years. He will be sadly and greatly missed by all his family, and friends. Service of Thanksgiving at St Mary the Virgin Church Ketton on 2nd April 2020 at 1.30pm, has been postponed due to the ongoing COVID 19 Restrictions. The service of thanksgiving will be arranged and advertised for a future date. Donations if desired for Lincolnshire Music Services-Services for Schools may be made c/o Andrew Woodhouse Independent Funeral Services, Sandon Barn, Casterton Road, Stamford PE9 4BP Tel: 01780 751719

Stamford Mercury, 20 March 2020