In loving memory of Peter Mirams who sadly passed away on 28th August 2017. Joyce has asked that there should be family flowers only with donations, if desired, to Cancer Research UK.
Roger Tozerposted a picture
Offline donation: Mrs J Mirams donated in memory of Peter
Roger Tozerposted a picture
Offline donation: Mrs E G Cook donated in memory of Peter
Offline donation: Diana & Stephen Egarr donated in memory of Peter
Tribute to Peter G Mirams – RIP
Friday 15th September 2017.
I met with Joyce, Roger and Elaine last week to find out more about Peter and it's my pleasure to share some stories about him with you now.
Peter was born in St Albans in May 1931 to parents Mabel and George. He was the youngest of three – his sister Eva and brother Dennis helped to make his childhood a rumbustious one, one that he sometimes felt he 'survived' rather than 'enjoyed'!
He had a strong and close bond with his mother Mabel – she adored him. However, as a toddler he could drive her to distraction and she would sometimes tie him by his reins to the table leg so that he wouldn't wander off and get into trouble while she was trying to do some housework!
As a schoolboy he struggled somewhat: he was a diligent student but he suffered from a form at dyslexia which didn't do his written work any favours. At the time, no allowance was made for dyslexia and he was just shouted at to try harder. Although he was clearly bright and good with his hands, enjoying woodwork and technical drawing, he wasn't really keen on attending school and would often play truant. He didn't seem get into a lot of trouble for doing this, probably because the war made it more difficult to monitor when he should have been in, but also because he always seemed to know where the line was that he really shouldn't cross. He did just enough to keep his teachers quiet, then slipped away when their attentions were focused elsewhere.
When Peter officially left school it was to join the Campfield Press, where his father also worked. Campfield was a major employer in the town with over 300 staff working on the production of all the Salvation Army newspapers – the War Cry, Young Soldier, and Musician – as well as devotional literature such as Bibles, prayer books and hymn-books. Peter got involved in all aspects of the work, compositing and print, but he specialised in book-binding. With his good hands and careful approach, it suited him.
To work at Campfield you didn't have to be a Salvationist, but you had to comply with their rules: no drinking, no smoking and no pin-ups on the press; and attendance at a weekly service! However, Peter was more associated with the Salvation Army than many – although he wasn't particularly religious his father was an active member – and so Peter would attend many of the Army's local events. Doing so had two major impacts on his life: in music and love!
Peter learned to play the cornet as a lad and joined the Army band. To play in a tight knit band with able, like-minded folk was a wonderful experience, and was something that he enjoyed doing for the rest of his life.
And because of the music, he was playing at a gala event one evening when a certain young lady called Joyce was also present. They had eyes only for one another and at the end of the evening he walked her home. They've been walking together ever since!
They met when they were teenagers and got married in 1951 when they were just 20. Joyce remembered that they lived at home with Mabelfor four years before they'd saved up enough money to buy their own house – a brand new place with all sorts of fancy features, where they lived together happily for the next 46 years before they finally moved to Dorset.
For a few years, Peter worked at De La Rue's in Dunstable as a line manager, responsible for the quality of the output of bank notes and security printing. This was the second of three jobs he had in the paper industry, but it was his third role that he stayed in the longest, when he set up Castle West, a company supplying hygiene and industrial wiping products – toilet rolls to you and me!
It was a small, tight-knit outfit of just 5 people (including Joyce but between them they set up a thriving business in and around Luton, Aylesbury, Windsor, Slough and Watford – the preferred supplier for many hotels, factories and Luton Airport because of their excellent customer service. Eventually Peter's hard work paid off and he was able to sell the business as a profitable going-concern in 2001.
Peter's professional drive was matched by his passion for playing in the Salvation Army band. He had begun by playing the cornet, but after a while he took up playing the trombone too, taught by an old family friend, Sandy Ruby. Joyce remembered the noise – I mean sound – of it. He did his best to keep it down – by practising in the shed at the end of the garden!
The other way that a golden silence prevailed at home was by him attending band practise in the Salvation Army hall. At times, this meant that Peter was out two or three times a week, plus the time when he would be committed to the concerts themselves. It was a major commitment, but then the 'Hendon Band of the Salvation Army' was exceedingly good. They toured Europe, performing in concert halls and parks there to appreciative audiences. And at home they had gigs at venues like the London Palladium – Peter even shared the stage with Cilla Black when she was the toast of the town!
For years and years, the band was Peter's other life, and this sometimes conflicted with his home life. Elaine told me that although she'd been married Roger for years, she only really got to know Peter when he eventually gave up playing in the mid 1990s. By then, the pleasure of playing had been overtaken by the pressures that come with success, and Peter realised too that he was missing out on his family.
Although Peter and Joyce had not had any children of their own, they were extremely close to their nephew, Roger. He visited them for many years and idolised Peter. Roger had even learned to play the trombone like his uncle! Musicality was something that Peter prized and he was delighted to discover that it seemed to have passed through the generations, with Roger's grandsonn also taking up a musical instrument.
In retirement and free of the band, Peter was able to enjoy some quality time with Joyce, whom he adored. Peter's favourite destination for a break was Sidmouth, where he could mooch around the town (Joyce told me that coffee and sticky buns were often involved too!) or go for walks along the prom and the cliff tops. Further afield, they travelled to Tenerife and to Portugal to visit Joyce's brother.
At home, Peter had a few projects to occupy him. He would sometimes play a round of golf with friends, or tend to the garden. When they first moved to Dorset their garden was overlooked by everyone – Peter's skills with his hands meant that he had soon built screens, pergolas and fences, all beautifully planted with flowers and shrubs. He'd enjoyed working with wood since his schooldays, at one time making instrument cases for his fellow band members and now turning his hand to making furniture – beautiful finished shelves and even a pair of folding glass doors with mahogany frames.
Peter led a fascinating and independent life until almost the very end. Always smartly dressed, with a broad smile and a genuine hello, he was a caring, charming man who got on well with everyone around him. He was devoted to his darling wife Joyce, and deeply committed to his family, especially Roger, Elaine and their children. He will be much missed.
Neil McCain - Independent Celebrant
Services to remember loved ones with affection and joy
Warwick and Meg HOWEdonated £25 in memory of Peter