Remembering Peter Walsh

As previously reported, a fondly regarded member of Trinity Chambers, Peter Walsh sadly passed away on Friday 3rd April 2020.

Unfortunately, due to the Coronavirus restrictions, the many number of people who would have paid their respects and supported the family at Peter's recent funeral, were unable to attend. Below is the address from Head of Chambers, Toby Hedworth Q.C. delivered at the funeral.

The thoughts of Chambers' Members and Staff are with Peter's family and friends at this very difficult time.

Normally, at this stage, somebody would address a large gathering and tell those attending a potted history of Peter’s life, peppered with amusing anecdotes and remembrances.
But these are not normal times and this cannot be a normal funeral.
And in any event those here today know the biographical details and have their own anecdotes and remembrances to fill a day rather than the few minutes that we have here together.
But however brief this will be, it is no less heartfelt.

Peter was someone who had close and true friendships with so very many people, and people of every description.
And all of us here will remember the particular relationship that he had with each of us.
Each of those relationships was different and we can and we will treasure that uniqueness. But there were also many common strands.
There was his humility.
His compassion and his caring.
His loyalty.
His championing of the underdog.
His ability to listen. His preparedness to make time for us and to step in when others might find it easier to walk on by.
His love for, and pride in, Debbie, and Adam, Rose, Caitlin and Paddy.
His pride in his family, his roots and the communities and beliefs that he never left behind - despite living in the Tyne Valley with his extensive wine cellar and the esteem of his professional colleagues!
And his sense of humour.
And of course the most bizarre and mismatched collection of vintage sportswear; which may even - at some time - become fashionable again.

As an advocate, some will speak with soaring oratory, quoting from the classics, and knowing nothing at all about their clients: where they come from, what their demons are and what they are capable of.
Peter was not that sort of advocate.
Peter instinctively knew what his clients suffered, knew the problems they faced, knew what they were capable of. And he took them on the journey of their own case. With them every step of the way. Telling the judge in blunt and direct terms what his client was capable of and what would or would not work.

But for me, perhaps all of Peter’s qualities can be encapsulated in his generosity of spirit.
Always wanting to see the best in people.
Always wanting to see the best for people.
And always, quietly and unobtrusively, going about things to ensure that the best could and would be done for people.
Never seeking praise, never seeking glory.

Peter was one of life’s unsung heroes.
A guiding hand or word here, a generous contribution or donation there.
Whether it be in his professional life or his personal life, everyone - no matter how important or how seemingly insignificant - was treated the same.
Whether it was the man down on his luck sitting on the pavement outside Greggs on the Quayside or a senior member of the judiciary, it mattered not - actually, the man outside Greggs usually got treated better.
In the many, many messages of condolence sent by barristers what came across time and time again was the way that Peter went out of his way to welcome and support newcomers to the profession or to our chambers.
Peter would simply do his best try to ensure that you could do your best.
He would look after you.
All of us have had the pleasure and the privilege of sharing Peter: for that we are truly grateful.

After I read the Gaelic prayer, we will share together one of Peter’s favourites, The Wild Rover.

Then we will depart, but only until such time as we can safely meet again, and with all those others who would have wished to be here today, to honour and respect a very, very special man.

Toby Hedworth Q.C.

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