Tributes paid to Peterhead hero

Peter Strachan, better known as Shonie, was a retired skipper and much loved husband, father and grandfather
Peter Strachan, better known as Shonie, was a retired skipper and much loved husband, father and grandfather

Peter Strachan (Shonie), retired skipper of the FV Stanhope passed away on Monday, January 7, 2019 at the age of 84 with his family by his side.

Peter was born on September 22, 1934, the second son of John and Elsie Strachan of Wallace Street Peterhead.

It was here Peter grew up with his four brothers; John, Andrew, Alex and George, and his two sisters; Betty and Elsie.

At the age of four Peter nearly lost his life when he fell into the water at The Smith Embankment at the harbour but was rescued by a young lady called Andrewina Summers who was passing and pulled him unconscious from the water.

Peter was educated at the Central School and Peterhead Academy before leaving aged 15 to join his father at sea on his boat, Our Lassie .

A move to help crew his uncle’s boat the Three Bells was to change the course of Peter’s life.

On the evening of October 27, 1952 whilst fishing in stormy weather rising to gale force conditions, some 42 miles off the coast of Great Yarmouth, William G. Buchan, the mate of the vessel was struck by a rope and thrown overboard.

In worsening weather, Peter immediately removed his boots and oilskins and dived into the sea.

Peter, aged 18 and a strong swimmer, managed to locate William and with immense effort reached and supported the 15 stone man who was by now unconscious in the freezing water.

Peter supported the Mate in the sea for 35 minutes, keeping him above the surface in the light of flares before they could be hauled aboard the boat to safety.

The risk he took was subsequently described as having a “million to one” chance of survival.

For his bravery, Peter was awarded a silver medal followed by the Stanhope Gold Medal by the Royal Humane Society for the bravest deed of the 1952 within the Commonwealth.

Peter was invited to London with his parents where he was presented with his medals at St James’s Palace by the Duke of Gloucester.

Following an instruction from Queen Elizabeth II, Peter received a written acknowledgement of his bravery signed by Winston S. Churchill, Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury.

At the age of 22, Peter became one of the youngest skippers in Scotland when he skippered his first boat which he proudly named Stanhope.

In 1957 Peter married Agnes Buchan, whose family were also steeped in the fishing industry.

They welcomed their first child, a boy, also called Peter in 1958 and Peter built and launched his next boat Stanhope 1 shortly after.

Their first daughter, Doreen was born in 1961 and it was whilst Agnes was pregnant with their third child she swam out into the water at Peterhead Bay in an attempt to rescue a six-year-old boy who had fallen into the water whilst playing with school pals. Sadly her attempts were in vain as they were unable to resuscitate the boy.

Their daughter, also called Agnes was born six days later, in February 1965.

For her bravery Agnes was awarded a Testimonial on Vellum from the Royal Humane Society.

Their last daughter, Shona, was born the following year.

Peter built his second boat Stanhope II, a 74ft wooden seine net boat at Richard Irvin and Sons shipyard in Peterhead and she was launched in 1967.

He went on to build one further boat, Stanhope III, a steel boat launched in 1975.

A successful fisherman and businessman, Peter retired from the sea when he was 49-years-old and enjoyed his retirement with his family.

He travelled far and wide, circumnavigated the globe and spent many an enjoyable trip with Agnes in their motorhome exploring the coastline of Scotland.

Their favourite spots were always on the coast where they could look to the sea and reflect on the years that had passed.

Sadly, Peter lost his wife in February 2016, months short of their 60th wedding anniversary and life was never the same for him.

His remaining months were spent with his family and he also welcomed a great grandchild to add to their nine grandchildren.

Peter was a much loved family man, a quiet man but also a true hero who will be sorely missed by many who knew and respected him.