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Peter (Pete) Newland (1936 – 2020)

Pete would have been 85 on 17th January 2021.

It was undoubtedly destiny that Pete should have been a Surbitonian, after all, in his youth, he lived only a few yards from the Braemar building entrance into Surbiton County Grammar School. He was always a tall, lanky lad so how, as a growing teenager, he fitted into the small desks at SCGS only his classmates can tell.

All through his school life, Pete was a popular boy. He excelled in sports being a natural ball player – rugby, cricket, athletics (champion javelin thrower) and even boxing when required annually to step into the ring for his house, Coutts.

Always known as Pete, rather than Peter, showed how popular he was at school.

He was a natural leader even if not the actual captain of the team. This was appreciated perhaps even more within the schools Army Cadet Force where he easily rose through the ranks.

After school, Pete joined the Old Surbitonians' Association, playing rugby and cricket, even though his standard of rugby could have led him to join a more senior club. In his heart he was a Surb through and through.

In the cricket club, he captained the Saturday team and was as popular with oppositions as he was with his own team. With his long reach as a batsman, he was able to turn a good length delivery into an overpitched ball which confused bowlers, and he was particularly strong on the off-side.

For both training and enjoyment, Pete also played badminton to a high standard. However, most of us will remember Pete as a rugby player. He was tall, but not overly so. His strength was in his long powerful legs. In the lineout, he could outjump practically everybody (well before the day of lifting!) and his speed about the pitch was remarkable. He varied his position from second row to No 8 according to the needs of the team and in the latter role his speed in corner-flagging was a mainstay of the defence appreciated by fly half and full back alike.

Pete played a major part in off-the-pitch activities at Cobham. He was a leader of social activities in the clubhouse after matches, able to make any evening go with a swing, often leading the “choir” in traditional choruses with brother Derry.

Yet he always had time for the younger members of the club in any of the four teams, especially those who had recently joined straight from school. Practically, everything he did, he did with a smile on his face.

Pete was one of the first people at the club to own a car. When he drove on to the ground, we all thought that Maigret had come to visit. More than the allowed number would often pile in going to away matches!

When Pete married Iris, and then moved to Bracknell, we all thought that the club would see less of Pete........but no, he still gave maximum support for all activities (and organised a few with Iris).

Subsequently, they moved to Beaconsfield and again on to Charndon near Bicester. Pete's involvement and enthusiasm for all Cobham activities never waned. There were tours, England matches abroad (less said the better!), race nights, dances, dinners, work parties (in the 60s and 80/90s) pavilion maintenance, where his surveying/QS skills were appreciated. Wherever there was a need, Pete was there.

Along with Dick Blackman and Ken Higgins, Pete attended the funeral of Terry Price, a former hooker in the 1st XV. The tragic circumstances of Terry's death led Pete and Dick to start a group to maintain a link with former players especially if and when they visited the ground. This group was aptly named The Braemar Club after the gateway building for all new young pupils at SCGS. Pete became the treasurer – and some would say he was the perfect treasurer in that he was loath to make payments, donations gratefully received, no refunds! Subsequently, he became joint chairman with Stuart Davies of the club which then became Braemar Allstars who will be celebrating its 35th Anniversary in 2021.

Another joint venture with Stuart, and later also with Roger King, was acting as executor and trustee for Peter Marsh's estate – a complicated affair –transferring large sums of money to Cobham Sports Association according to Peter Marsh's wishes.

Pete loved all things Old Surbs/Cobham.He loved the ground, the building and the way the club had developed over the years. He had strong opinions about how things should be done and money spent but was in praise of the skills and commitment of those who had taken the reins to make it into a really outstanding club, both on and off the pitch.

Over the years, Pete had put himself out for the club he loved and believed in. He loved seeing good open rugby and the youngsters coming forward. The old adage says “those who put in, get the most out”. Well, that really does apply to Pete Newland and he did enjoy life to the full. He loved gardening and his garden looked immaculate; he enjoyed holidays in warmer climes where his arthritis was less painful; he enjoyed driving; he enjoyed having a few beers or a glass of red with friends; he had lots of stories to share; he was a wonderful husband and father; he made other people's lives richer and more enjoyable.

His friends will say that no-one could have had a better friend. He was great fun to be with, enjoyable to chat with. Her never complained – even when he was very unwell.

Pete was an example to us all and he will be very much missed.

Rest in peace now, dear friend.

Stuart Davies – Joint Chairman | The Braemar Allstars Club

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