Peter grew up in Gosport and after graduating from Durham University, his early career was in local authority and voluntary sector adult education, first in Cambridgeshire, then the North of Scotland during the period that culminated in the North Sea oil discoveries. This was a time of social change and experiment and he worked to develop education programmes that responded to the needs of the period and place, including volunteer-based adult literacy schemes for workers on whom the technological industries made new demands.
This led him to recognise the wider contribution of volunteers in society and he later moved to the Volunteer Centre UK for a decade.
Peter returned to the voluntary sector and from 1987 was CEO in turn of the national charities providing support and carrying out research for motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis and cancer. This part of his career culminated at Macmillan Cancer Support, where he led the renewal of the charity from its exclusive focus on nurses, to its present manifestation as the source of information and practical and emotional support for people affected by cancer: patients, relatives, carers, colleagues, and friends.
At the time he expected to plan his retirement he was asked to run the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, a job that tapped his lifelong passion for the sea and ships. As a civil servant for the first time, he learnt some of the complexity of government.
After a period heading up a trust operating sports, fitness and leisure facilities in London and the West Country, his life turned full circle. In 2012 he was appointed CEO of Sail Training International, based in Gosport, which runs the worldwide Tall Ships Races.