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Obituary: Sir Henry Beresford-Peirse
The death of Sir Henry Beresford-Peirse ,6th Baronet, has been deeply felt by his family and friends and by the people of Bedale, and brings to an end a lifetime of quiet service to his community.
Henry, a familiar figure in the town, took a keen interest in local activities and was always ready to offer help and advice. At a practical level, he allowed the craftsman working on the estate, a retained fireman, to down tools and answer the fire service’s call of duty whenever the need arose, an activity that could sometimes last for days or even longer.
Henry’s family, originally the Peirse family, has been established in Bedale since the 16th century. It has supported the town in many ways, such as donating land around Bedale Hall for recreational purposes, and also for a nearby sports centre.
Henry grew up during and after World War II and thus was of the generation that knew the meaning of privation and doing one’s duty without complaining. During his National Service he was an officer in the Scots Guards and very popular with his platoon, who presented him with a tankard - an unusual recognition for a National Serviceman. He was on duty during the Coronation in 1953, standing in the Mall for fourteen hours in heavy rain in an increasingly soaked and weighty bearskin.
The less than healthy state of his family’s finances, coupled with a love of the countryside and a potential career in farming, led to his attending the Ontario Agricultural College in Guelph, Canada, where he arrived in 1953 with £25 in his pocket. One of the attractions were the possibilities for earning his college fees through part-time work in the forests of northern British Columbia, an experience which led to a life-long passion for forestry.
His hopes of farming in Bedale after his studies were dashed by the pressing need to generate income, so a career in finance beckoned, first in Toronto and then London. In 1966, now 33, Henry entered the London office of the Fiduciary Trust Company of New York where he was to become their expert in Japanese and Asian investments.
In the same year he married Jadranka Njers, from Zagreb, then Yugoslavia, who he met while she was visiting friends in North Yorkshire. It was to prove a perfect partnership for them both.
With fortuitous timing Henry retired in 1991, just before the Japanese economy went into depression, and was finally able to retire to Bedale to enjoy the life of the countryman that he was at heart. He inceasingly supported Jadranka’s International Trust for Croatian Monuments, formed on the outbreak of war in Croatia in 1991.
Henry was a loving father to his two sons, Henry and Johnny, and a much-loved grandfather to Harry, Alfred and Martha. He had a dry sense of humour that endeared him to everyone who met him. He was a loyal and trusted friend upon whose judgement one could always depend. He will be greatly missed and never forgotten.