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Opinion & Analysis

Peter Schirmer, old school reporter and generous mentor

David Parody

For any reporter, veteran or newbie alike, a 30-minute chat with Peter Schirmer was a true gift.

There were colourful stories of Fleet Street in the 1960s and 70s, and tales of being a newsman in South Africa and Argentina during turbulent times. There were stories too of his time in Crete and his love for the Mediterranean life. Best of all were the unprintable anecdotes by the bucketload after over two decades working in Gibraltar.

Peter was a raconteur with a flair for storytelling and a passion for the written word. He was a gentleman, a kind and generous mentor to journalists of all ages, an old school reporter who cared about his profession and was always there to help colleagues and rivals alike as best he could.

His Friday finance column was a must read. Peter had a knack for explaining complex financial issues in layman’s language, although even he would admit to struggling occasionally with the impenetrable “gibberish” of the blockchain world. He wrote with verve and incisive knowledge of a fast-moving world, unafraid to bruise egos if necessary, but always accurate and fair.

In true Schirmer style, Peter knew what lay around the corner before the rest of us did.

Last November he won the annual Autumn Poetry Competition with a poem about death and remorse. “Death,” he told us later in an interview, “is the final truth, death decides what you have done, who you have been, and whether you have added value to the world or not.” His poem was a deep reflection on humanity and mortality.

A few weeks ago, he dropped by the office bearing gifts, among them his old Times press card. It is a keepsake we will treasure in the newsroom, where Peter will be deeply missed by reporters young and old.

Peter filed his last column from his hospital bed last week, writing to the very end, always on deadline. He would not have had it any other way.

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