Arriving at St David’s in 1977, Pete’s challenge was to build on the foundations laid by Bob Shepton. The task was to develop the vision of Founder Head John Mayor, of whole person education, using the outdoor arena as a place for learning and character development.
Outdoor Education teacher, Mr Chris Jowett remembers starting his St David’s career and immediately being recruited by Pete Leavers to join him on an adventurous expedition in the Dolomites in Northern Italy. It was the first of many expeditions - Pete built the structure for the now famous Outdoor Education programme at St David’s around the ethos of John Mayor’s founding vision for the school. He believed in the vision and shared the philosophy of Outdoor Education and the importance of it within education”.
Building on this vision Pete was responsible for incorporating Outdoor Education into the weekly curriculum timetable and went on to inspire generations of pupils and staff. Head of Outdoor Education, Ian Martin, said: “His legacy here and his contribution to Outdoor Education as a whole live on today and we aim to keep that spirit of adventure alive.”
I remember the stories that heralded Pete’s arrival! Known by Nick Richter from the days of running Christian adventure holidays in the Lake District, as an accomplished climber and committed Christian, we were excited to welcome him and his wife Polly. They quickly settled into the community living in Garden Cottage, bring their homely heart and love of people. It was no more than a 1 up, 1 down cottage, but they brought up their girls, Lucy and Chloe, there for a number of years. About a year after arriving, a door was knocked through to connect their cottage to Sycamore Cottage (now the Medical Centre) and Pete and Polly looked after the junior borders. Gareth Williams writes, “I remember our time in Sycamore cottage. Good times. Remember we played a trick on Peter's wife. Peter got us back by saying a virus was going around the school, and we all had to take some medicine. It was horrible stuff. He thought it was hilarious that we all took it.”
Pete was involved in taking pupils to Arctic Norway and Mount Kenya (1984). We are grateful to Brenden Bithell and Tim Gibbs for the photographs.
For so many pupils it was the unique combination of Pete’s ‘no nonsense’, adventurous, deeply passionate and caring spirit, together with his firm Christian faith a conviction that had such a powerfully positive and enduring impact on their lives. Pete would always see it how it is, leaving one in no doubt that here was something that needed reflecting on and then responding to!
I am in no doubt today, as I write, that for all those deeply impacted by Pete’s life our response can be nothing more simple and yet profound than, “Pete, we love you – thank you!”