13:37, May 01 254 0 theguardian.com

2020-05-01 13:37:03
Other lives  Peter Walsh obituary

My great friend Peter Walsh, who has died suddenly aged 66 from undetected heart disease, was a criminal defence barrister committed to protecting civil and legal rights and a dedicated football mentor who founded, funded and coached youth teams.

Peter was born in Clydebank, Glasgow, one of three children of Tommy Walsh, a docker, and his wife, Sadie (nee Dolan). Home life in Glasgow was unhappy and when Peter was eight, his mother took the children away to Hull, where she qualified as a teacher. There Peter grew up in a socialist community and his mother succeeded in becoming a primary headteacher. His stepfather, Walt Cunningham, was a dockers’ shop steward and later city councillor.

After attending the local Buckingham Street primary school, in 1964 Peter went to the new David Lister high school, Hull’s first comprehensive. There, he thrived, representing the school at football, cricket, rugby, badminton, volleyball, hockey and cross-country running.

But his time at David Lister came to a premature end when he was expelled aged 17 for persistent lateness and alleged insolence. He felt unjustly treated and it was a formative experience. With the help of a maths teacher, Harry Gurevitch, with whom Peter formed a lasting bond, he took his A-levels at another Hull comprehensive, the Leo Schultz high school.

Peter then went to City of London Polytechnic (now London Metropolitan University) and took a degree in politics and government, maintaining his sporting activities. He captained the football team to national success, winning the British Polytechnics Cup in 1976, and the following year became president of the student union. He then studied law – also at City Polytechnic – and was called to the bar in 1982 at Gray’s Inn. After his pupillage in Middlesbrough, he practised in Newcastle, at 46 Grainger Street and finally Trinity Chambers, where his commitment to justice blossomed and he became well known for supporting junior staff.

He was a successful criminal defence barrister, driven by the principle that a person charged with a crime is entitled to representation by an independent advocate whose skills as a lawyer should be of the highest order.

Peter started youth football teams wherever he lived and funded them himself: Clara Vale Celtic, Wylam Celtic and in 2003 he revived football in Corbridge, where he lived, welcoming players of all abilities and giving life to the now thriving Tynedale Football club. He played cricket for Stocksfield and Corbridge, was a qualified football coach and referee and was still playing football and cricket right up to his death.

Peter remained a staunch Celtic fan. He also had a lifelong love of Hull Kingston Rovers, passed on by his stepdad, and visited from Corbridge as often as possible to watch them.

Peter loved being outdoors, walking Murphy, his beloved dog, growing his own vegetables on his allotment and cooking for his family. He walked Hadrian’s wall and climbed the “three peaks”, and had been planning to do the coast-to-coast walk this year.

Peter is survived by his wife, Debbie (nee Lynch), whom he married in 1986, their children, Adam, Rose Erin, Caitlin and Patrick, and his siblings, Rosemary and Thomas.

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