Peter Harvey Earl (Gibbs’ 1959-63) died at home on 1 June after a typically brave fight against cancer. His passing left a massive void in so many lives. His beloved wife Jo whom he married in March 1973, his son Tom and daughter Jackie, his elder brother David – better known at Lancing as Terry (Gibbs’ 1956-60) - and younger brother Guy and all their related families. This is not to mention the many, many close friends and admirers who if listed would be too many to be accommodated here.
As a contemporary at Lancing, Sir Tim Rice wrote: “I am so sorry to hear the sad news about Herbie. I shall always remember him as a delightful and cheerful fellow. I wish I had seen more of him over the years”. (You will need to read on for the explanation of the name change to Herbie!)
As a young lad living in Cornwall Peter was an enthusiast for any game that involved a ball. As his brother David recalls, they spent hours together ruining the lawn of their parents' lovely home with long and hard-fought games of football and cricket, with Peter’s flowing skills with the bat often testing his brother’s patience as a bowler! But they had one special claim to fame - they once played football on that very lawn with none other than Stanley Matthews…
When he first went to Lancing he was reluctant to reveal what the H in his initials stood for, so naturally his contemporaries chose one for him. “It must be Herbie” was the cry, and so Herbie he became to all those who knew him at Lancing. He was Herbie to us and our families from then and for always.He excelled at sport and played cricket and football at all levels including 1st XI football under the legendary Ken Shearwood. Living as he did in Cornwall, he made friends local to the College and made Worthing his second home for weekend exeats. Golf was, however, unquestionably his forte and he won the coveted Captain's Prize at Worthing Golf Club - more of golf later.
On leaving Lancing he determined to become qualified as a chartered accountant, but on doing so could not keep away from sport so he joined a pioneering sports management agency, the Bagnal Harvey Organisation, where he represented such sporting icons as Denis Compton and Jimmy Hill. Moving from London and having married Jo, he later joined Lewes-based accountants Knill James, where he remained until he retired in 2012. His love of golf and his bond with Lancing led to many outstanding Halford Hewitt appearances. As close friend and often partner Chris Martin (Olds 1954-59) recalls: “Peter made some 36 appearances in Lancing’s Halford Hewitt side and I was delighted to have been his partner in ten of those years. Indeed I had the particular pleasure of partnering Peter in his very first Hewitt match in 1972. Lancing was drawn against Eton and one of our opponents was a Julian Earl who, on that cold and blustery day, appeared wearing a camel hair overcoat, removed for shot-playing, and with the Head Green Keeper of Royal St Georges as his caddy. I am delighted to report that, although Lancing went down 3/2, Peter was the happier ‘Earl’ and recorded the first of his many Hewitt wins. I also had the great pleasure of partnering Peter in Lancing’s memorable journey to the final in 1991, including victories over Uppingham, Fettes, Rossall, and Sherborne before succumbing by the narrowest of margins to Shrewsbury. Peter missed Lancing’s run to the last eight in 1998 for the very good reason that he was watching Earth Summit win the Grand National, but we assured him our money was on the right horse. In the early years Peter’s regular partner was Colin Herbert (Olds 1953-57) and that partnership continued on to the Mellin Salver with considerable success. The Lancing golfing fraternity has lost a great friend and mentor.”
In further affections towards Lancing, Peter also served the OL Club as Hon Treasurer for many years.
Like his father, he loved horse racing and this of course leads us to Earth Summit. Bought for 5,800 guineas in 1992 by the Summit Partnership - Peter, Ricky George, Gordon Perry, Mike Bailey, Bob Sims and Nigel Payne. What a marvellous time the horse gave them and in 1998 he won the biggest and best jump race in the world - the Grand National. He became and still is the only horse in history to win the Scottish, Welsh and English Nationals. He won none races and over £300,000 in prize money. Many yarns have been spun and tales told about this truly memorable experience. Surely he must be the only Grand National winner with two OLs as part-owners!
Peter was also much loved in Ditchling where he graced the local cricket square. Below is an extract from the Club’s website which just about sums up the universal affection in which Peter was held:
“It was with great sadness that we received the news this that our President, Peter Earl, had passed away. A player and member for many decades, Peter was in love with Ditchling and in particular the cricket club. He lost his indomitable battle with cancer but it was a fight filled with grace and heart,
much like his style of cricket. As the news broke tributes have come in from many members of our club.”
"He was a real gentleman and a great sportsman. None better and deserved a much longer innings."
"A great man who gave his all for the club."
"Ditchling CC is truly indebted. He was a great man and we were lucky to have him."
"He was such a good man and great supporter of our junior and senior sides."
A regularly repeated theme of greatness.
A service of thanksgiving was held on Wednesday 10 June when over 320 came to pay their respects – a case of standing room only in Ditchling Parish Church.
Tributes flowed and the overriding mood was one of absolute affection.
We were all truly honoured to have known and loved Peter Harvey (Herbie) Earl. Sleep well old friend.
Nigel Payne (Sanderson’s 1959-63)