Peter Price, 1931-2007
Peter “Dai” Price died on June 25, three days before his 76th
birthday. During the last six months of his life, punctuated as they were
by periods of illness, serious surgical intervention, periods of recovery
and relapse, he never gave up his belief that he would eventually recover.
Peter Price was born in Tunbridge Wells,
youngest of three, the brother Edward and the sister Ruth who survive
him. He was born blind, and his
parents realised early that his best chance lay
in being educated by people who were trained to prepare children for a life
without sight. At the age of three
he became the first toddler to join the newly opened unit at Chorleywood College, soon to be joined by John
Wall, John Way,
Tony Debonnaire and others. All of them passed on to Worcester College at the end of the
‘thirties, Peter in 1939.
It is said that people who spend their formative years in institutions away
from their families, develop properties which make it difficult for them to
fit easily into the social fabric.
It is a tribute to the loving care of his family that Peter’s
continuous absence from home, apart from holidays, for sixteen years had no
adverse effects on his personality. He developed early and never lost his
conviction that a large part of one’s life should be devoted to
helping others. What certainly
helped to keep the family together was the parents’ decision to have
both siblings boarded in schools at Worcester, Edward at the King’s
School and Ruth at the Alice Ottley.
As Peter grew up, he became
increasingly engaged in non-academic activities at the college,
particularly chess and rowing, the latter to be continued at the Mortlake Rowing Club, while he studied and worked in London. He also joined the college band as a
In 1949 Peter entered the
RNIB school of physiotherapy, qualifying in 1952. Afterwards he worked at the Central Middlesex Hospital
and at a private practice in Knightsbridge.
In 1965 he received a call from his school friend and colleague
Keith Hallam to join a private practice recently
established in Edgbaston, Birmingham, where he was to spend the
rest of his professional life. The
practice was founded by Bernard Thomas who became the physiotherapist
attached to MCC touring
parties. Their experience in
treating sports injuries gained them a national reputation, and the practice
eventually supplied services to the Wimbledon
lawn tennis championships, the Warwickshire County Cricket Club and the Edgbaston Golf Club. Soon after settling down in Birmingham, Peter
stood for and was elected to the Council of the Association of Blind
Chartered Physiotherapists on which he served for many years, ending up as
In 1962 Peter befriended Joy
who was working as a radiographer in London
and in 1966 they married. However,
within a year or two Joy became ill.
Reluctantly, Peter let her go, and she died some years later.
from work in 2000 coincided with the closure of the clinic. Most people put their feet up on
retirement and devote themselves to their hobbies. Not so Dai Price. Ever since his move to Birmingham he had
done voluntary work for the local blind society, Focus on Blindness,
helping people beginning to lose their sight to come to terms with their
problems. By the time of his
retirement, having already been a member of the board for many years, he
volunteered to relieve the switchboard operator for half a day every day
throughout the week – without any additional training – a
commitment from which even the onset of age-related deafness could not
deter him. This, of course, put him
in direct contact with people who needed help, and with his vast experience
of blind welfare and targeted technology, he was able to give them the
advice they needed.
For years Peter’s
mellifluous voice had been familiar to listeners of Birmingham’s Talking Newspaper; now
he was asked to join the committee as well.
His love of literature and fluency in reading Braille made the
“poetry corner” he regularly organised in Birmingham and at meetings he attended,
an event to be remembered. After the
Disability Discrimination Act was passed, Peter became much in demand for
reading reports from all kinds of authorities and organisations right
across the country on tape, making him a celebrity in the world of the
visually impaired, like the familiar voices on BBC
radio, always heard and never seen.
In the 1980’s he
rediscovered his love of chess and joined a local chess club and the
Braille Chess association, taking an active part in its schedule of
over-the-board tournaments and postal competitions. He also became the editor of its gazette,
and during his editorship it doubled its frequency from two to four a
year. As well as chess news, he
always found space for word games, another of his hobbies.
Even if one accepts that no
one who is able to live a normal life without sight is just an
“ordinary person”, Peter was remarkable in that he never
allowed any of the twists of fortune that befell him to change his
philosophy. His passing will leave a
gap in the lives of not just his relatives and friends but also of many
people throughout the country. I
would like to leave the last word to someone who met him late in life and
speaks for all of us and them.
“This is a sad occasion. Peter
was a true and learned gentleman.
Through his editorship of the BCA Gazette, his kindly and cheerful
spirit was able to reach out to all of the B.C.A. He will be universally and sadly missed.
Peter was the first opponent
I ever played at a BCA event in a ‘friendly’ game with
clocks. Afterwards when we were
going over it together, his love and deep appreciation of the game of chess
shone through. It also became
quickly apparent to me that he had a wonderful love of life. Generally
– it was rare to see him without a smile on his face – and he
also had a deep understanding of his other main hobby, namely music.
Peter was unfailingly
cheerful and always had a good and often apt word to say, whatever the
occasion. Similarly no-one ever had
a bad word to say about him. Perhaps
it was appropriate that he should have lived in St. Peters Road in Birmingham.
Let us rejoice that we knew
Peter. I am sure that in Heaven
Peter will be rejoicing that he knew us.
Peter was that sort of man. I
shall miss Peter greatly, and I know many of you will too.”
Peter and I first met in
Gloucester Cathedral and we shared much happiness and great fun together
for over sixteen years. Braille
chess tournaments and coaching weeks were highlights of the year and we
greatly valued the warm friendships and humour of these occasions.
As you know, Peter had
wide-ranging interests. These
included ecology, geology and meteorology (shipping forecasts were never
missed except for chess!) and we attended many Bristol University
courses to explore woods, caves and rocks.
As a listener, Peter was
supremely good; in the course of providing over 100,000 treatments, he
listened to the trials and tribulations of a wide range of patients. His ability to assess character and
profession by means of a simple hand-shake was often unnerving.
A few years ago, as you
probably know, Peter volunteered to proof read for the Guild of Church Braillists. This
entailed reading thousands of words of religious material, a task which he
continued right up until the end of his life. Peter was a committed Christian, who very
often included the General Thanksgiving in his daily prayers.
Poetry played a big part in
Peter’s life and one of his favourite poems was “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayam by
Edward Fitzgerald. Here is a verse
which he particularly liked:
‘Tis all a Chequer-board of Nights and Days
Where Destiny with Men for Pieces plays;
Hither and thither moves, and mates and slays,
And one by one back in the
I count myself as enormously
privileged to have been so close to such a courageous, generous, kind and