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.
(Chairman ASADA 1984-1994)