Tribute is paid to 'humble' and 'caring' Eric
Tribute has been paid to a ‘humble’ and ‘caring’ man who left an indelible mark on the community around him.
Eric Peel, who has died aged 98, was well-known in the Mildenhall area and across Suffolk for his involvement in the Boys’ Brigade, in which he served as captain for 40 years from the early 1950s.
The company, which was a central part of many young boys’ lives in the area, promoted the habits of obedience, reverence, discipline and self-respect.
For many years, Eric combined his role as captain with being a deacon and church treasurer at Mildenhall Baptist Church, now known as King’s Church.
Peter Finnis, a lay pastor at the church, and who joined the Boys’ Brigade just before his 10th birthday when Eric was captain, said: “He (Eric) would never want to have the attention focused upon him, the humble man that he was, and yet he was a great leader as well. With his size, he had quite a presence about him.”
Originally born in Liverpool, and remaining a lifelong fan of Liverpool FC, Eric moved to Elveden to work as an accountant on the Elveden Estate until his retirement.
He spent his final years in Chester, where he moved with his wife Joan to be near his daughter.
During his time as captain of the Boys’ Brigade in Mildenhall, the company grew in size from 20 to 70, having great successes on the sporting field, and receiving the first Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Awards for a youth organisation in Suffolk.
Peter said some of his fondest memories with the company involved the summer camping trips they used to go on.
“Most boys when you see them at catch-up now, the first thing they talk about are the camps we used to go on every year. I never had a holiday as a boy, because mum and dad couldn’t afford it,” he said.
Peter said more than anything, Eric had a ‘real love for the boys he was dealing with’ and that love was ‘really pure, it was lovely, it was something great.’
Eric’s daughter Alex, who used to go on the camping trips with the company when possible, said: “He was a very caring father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He was very proud of people’s achievements, especially right down to the littlest ones.”