MAJOR PETER ORMEROD 1929 - 2008

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Peter Ormerod passed away on the 11th of February 2008 aged 78. Peter was born on the 16th of September 1929 in India, the youngest of 3 boys.  His primary education was at Dehra Dun and he returned to England for the first time age 11, completing his secondary education at Downside.

He attended Mons Officer Cadet School and was commissioned into the Royal Artillery on the 28th of October 1949.  Between 1955-1957 he saw action in Malaya in the war against the Communist Insurgents with 48 Field Regiment where he was “Mentioned in Despatches”. During this period he was in charge of a troop of 5.5 guns firing almost continuously. His hearing was badly damaged which resulted in him being profoundly deaf in the latter years of his life. In 1958 he qualified as a military parachutist. He served in Singapore and with the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) and after being promoted to Major in 1963 he went on to be Commandant of the British Outward Bound Centre in Kristiansand in Norway. In 1966 he completed the “All Arms Commando Course” and in the early 1970’s served with 29 Commando Regiment part of 3 Commando Brigade. In 1976 he completed a tour of Northern Ireland. He retired from the Army on the 17th of December 1984 after serving as a Staff Officer in Headquarters UK Land Forces where he was responsible for Adventurous Training.

 

The Army Sub-Aqua Diving Association (ASADA) will remember Peter Ormerod as the founding father of Army Sport Diving.  He was not only a BSAC First Class diver but was the Army’s first BSAC National Instructor and the first serviceman to be awarded the BSAC’s coveted Heinke trophy. Having started diving in Singapore in 1962, Peter went on to form the first BSAC branch in BAOR, before establishing an association of diving clubs in Germany. He mounted numerous expeditions all over the world and was also one of the Diving Officers on the year long prestigious Joint Service Research Expedition in 1978/79 to Chagos. On his return to the UK from Germany, he formed the Army Sub Aqua Diving Association and was chairman until his retirement in 1984. During this time he produced the Association’s constitution and wrote the initial regulations for the sport. He also obtained formal recognition of Sub Aqua Diving as an adventurous training pursuit allowing diving to be conducted while on military duty. After 1984 he became Vice President and helped to oversee the break from Royal Naval diving regulations to BSAC diving practices as well as helping to create Joint Services Regulations for military recreational diving.

Following his retirement Peter became the diving consultant to Operation Drake. He showed amazing dedication and worked exceptionally long days, often sleeping on a camp bed in the office so he could squeeze in a few more hours. In the early 90s he joined Operation Raleigh as the Director of Planning. This was an appointment which took Peter all over the world and one which carried enormous responsibility. This was arguably the pinnacle of his adventure training career.  He had a natural gift for instilling confidence in young people and getting them to do unusual tasks in difficult circumstances. He was perfectly suited to his new role and the young men and women on Raleigh respected him greatly.  Peter also had a passion for conservation and it was during one of his many trips to Borneo that he became fascinated by the Orang-utans and their conservation. 

In 2002 ASADA introduced the Ormerod Trophy. The Trophy is presented annually to the Army diver assessed by the ASADA committee to have contributed the most to Army Sub-Aqua Diving either for that year or in recognition of continued service. The decision to name the trophy after Peter was ASADA’s way of acknowledging the pivotal role he had played in establishing and promoting sub-aqua diving within the armed forces and is a fitting and lasting tribute to Peter’s hard work and dedication.  Peter presented the Trophy for the first time in 2004 at the BSAC Diving Officers Conference. In the same year Peter was presented with the Colin McLeod Award by the BSAC. The award is made for “Furthering international co-operation in diving” and is administered by the Jubilee Trust on behalf of the BSAC. Peter received the award for the significant contribution he had made in BSAC training.
Peter never married but bought a house near Salisbury to be close to his immediate relatives.  He was a person who shunned the limelight and will be sadly missed by his family, his friends in the Army, the sub aqua diving fraternity and the countless young men and women all over the world who came in contact with him on Raleigh expeditions.

MAJOR PETER ORMEROD

I knew Peter Ormerod for 40 years.  We first met in Norway during the winter of 1969, when he visited with 2 young soldiers on expedition, to show them some of the winter survival skills he had learnt whilst previously serving as the Commandant of the British Outward Bound Centre in Kristiansand.  A year later he returned to Norway with a team of divers to search the fjord at Isafaer, (Headquarters of the Outward Bound Centre), for watches that had been lost by servicemen taking part in the Dolphin swimming award.  This was at a time before Health & Safety when soldiers who wanted this award were required to jump off a 15 metre high rock into icy cold water and then swim 1000 metres to a boat moored in the fjord.  Those wearing watches often lost them on impact with the water and I recall Peter’s expedition, finding at least 2 which were eventually returned to their owners.

Our paths next crossed in the early 1970’s when we were both serving in 3 Commando Brigade and where I had developed an interest in sub aqua diving, training as a Royal Naval diver under Don MacLauchlan.  Peter at this stage was a very experienced diver but was always happy to offer his time and advice to people like myself and I learnt a great deal from him in those early days in the seas off Fort Bovisand.  Thereafter our careers took us in separate directions and it was not until 1984 when I returned to UK that we found ourselves serving together again, at HQ UKLF.  In the meantime Peter had created ASADA and was looking for someone to take over from him as its Chairman.  I was passionate about diving at the time and was only too happy to help him out, taking on the responsibility for the Association.

It was during the next 10 years as Chairman that I really got to know Peter and I like to think that between us we made a good team.  These were difficult years and a sea change for the Association which made a clean break with the Royal Naval diving regulations, fully adopting BSAC practices, creating our own Joint Services regulations and putting ASADA on a sound management basis.  I am not the easiest person to do business with and tend to see things in black and white but it was Peter’s quiet diplomacy behind the scenes that brought about these major changes with minimum of fuss. 

Towards the end of my tour with ASADA, Peter left the Army and joined Operation Raleigh as the Director of Diving; it was an appointment which took Peter all over the world carrying enormous responsibility and one which I believe was the pinnacle of his career.  Peter had a natural gift for instilling confidence in young people and getting them to do unusual tasks in difficult circumstances.  He was a meticulous planner, who was able to explain complex subjects simply, in a common sense manner and the young men and women on Raleigh, loved and respected him for it.  Peter was a kind and genuinely caring person having many friends, all over the world, who kept in regular contact with him.

 Since we lived near each other I saw a great deal of Peter during the last 2 years of his life, enjoying many pleasant lunches together, listening to stories of his travels to the remoter parts of the world that were just as exciting as those in the Conrad tales.  I was pleased also to be able to help him with his IT skills which were limited as he had taken up the computer rather late in life.  Feeling pressurised by his family and many friends to improve his computer skills, I took on the task of showing him which button to press.  This was not an easy task since Peter was profoundly deaf, a condition affecting most Gunners, but somehow or other we made progress.  Occasionally, he would phone me at home with such questions as ‘I have lost my cursor’ and I would try at the top of my voice to convey the necessary instructions down a telephone line to resolve the problem.  It was an extremely stressful business for both of us, but Peter would soon see the funny side of the situation and we would fall about laughing, threatening to spend the next 30 minutes in a darkened room! 

I am very pleased to have known Peter, he was a good man and I for one will miss him dearly.


Roger Forrest
(Chairman ASADA 1984-1994)