Peter Wyles

RETIRED solicitor Peter Frederick Wyles died at his home in Stanton St Bernard, near Pewsey, on January 1st surrounded by his children and wife Anne the day after they celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary.

Mr Wyles was born in 1934 in Coventry. After national service in the RAF, where he was in the first ever RAF rowing squad, he went up to read law at Merton College, Oxford. By his own admission, he was drawn more to the social and sporting aspects of college life than to the academic grind, and having achieved a place in the University Boat Squad he came away with a lifelong love of rowing, later becoming a member of the prestigious Leander club.

It was while doing his articles in London that he met Anne, a law student. She caught his attention by hitting him with her bracelet, which flew off her wrist and across the room as a result of an expansive and serendipitous gesture. They married in 1962, moving first to Dorking and then, already with two children in tow, on to Bratton, near Westbury, where they remained for a decade before settling in Stanton. Over the course of eighteen years, his family grew from two children to eleven, culminating in 1982 with the birth of identical twins, Mary Rose and Alexandra.

He joined what is now Awdry Bailey & Douglas, based in St John Street, Devizes, just in time almost to appear as an extra in Far from the Madding Crowd, which was being filmed in the Market Place. He practised as a solicitor in the town for more than forty years, setting up his own practice, Wyles & Co., in 1986.

During that period, he enjoyed commercial and personal connections with countless businesses and individuals throughout the town and beyond, being valued for his unashamedly old-fashioned style and the virtues of patience, sympathy, courtesy, prudence and integrity that were apparent in all his dealings.

Educational issues were close to his heart: he was instrumental in setting up the Wiltshire Pre-School Playgroups Association and, for many years, he served as governor of St Joseph’s Primary and of Devizes School. He was clerk to the governors of Dauntsey’s School for 33 years. He was an indefatigable supporter of local businesses, and was always ready with a cheerful word for everyone.

He never lost touch with his Midlands roots, and his sister and her family in Kenilworth. But he adored Wiltshire for its large, open skies, its blustery weather and the distinctive character of its population, which he understood and appreciated.

Peter was a parishioner at Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Devizes, at St Thomas More in Marlborough, and latterly at Holy Family in Pewsey.

In retirement Peter, a habitually active man, got particular pleasure from his dynasty of eleven children and their spouses, and his twenty-four grandchildren. The newest, Esme, came into the world only in November.

A Requiem Mass will be held at Holy Family in Pewsey at 11am on January 17th, followed by an interment in Stanton St Bernard.