Feature articles

07 January 2020

Remembering Peter Bateman

It's with sadness that we learned this week of the passing of former BPCA President, Peter Bateman.

Peter passed away peacefully on New Year's Day with his wife, Joan, by his side.

peter bateman obit rentokil 2

Peter spent 33 years with Rentokil, the last 20 of those as Director of Public Relations.

He was an honorary Life Member and Past President of BPCA. His connection with BPCA started from our days as The Industrial Pest Control Association.

Not only was Peter BPCA President, he was also a member of BPCA's Legislation Working Party and joint Consultative Committee 1983/4, Chairman of the Public Relations and Conference Committee 1983 - 1993 and Chairman of the Association's Mediation and Appeals tribunal 1996 - 2001. He received the Keith Cleverly Award for services to BPCA in 1991.

His book, Household Pests was published in 1979.

Kevin Higgins, BPCA Membership Manager, worked alongside Peter for many years. He said:

"It's not an exaggeration to say that, in his time, Peter was the voice of pest control - he practically invented pest control PR. You would often hear him on BBC Radio 4, promoting the professionalism of pest control workers. He spoke on behalf of the industry, not solely for his company. 

"I also recall attending a symposium on the subject of feral pigeons, organised by Peter and held at London Zoo. I don’t think anyone else had ever tried to bring all interested parties together to highlight the problems of feral pigeons and the possibilities for controlling them.

"He succeeded in getting a lot of publicity around the subject, which has subsequently brought a lot of work to the industry.

"Peter was held in uncommonly high regard by people across the industry and here at BPCA, and will be sorely missed."

Incredible pest PR legacy

Peter (centre-back right) with other former BPCA Presidents, at a dinner celebrating the Association's 70th anniversary in 2012.

In 1965, Peter ran a press conference in Hamelin announcing that town's first commercial rat control contract since the Pied Piper turned up in 1284. The contract ran for ten years.

Peter remarked once in an interview that "this time, we did insist on payment quarterly in advance". The story was intended to persuade Local Authorities that commercial pest control had a place in their plans and their budget.

Peter was instrumental in BPCA seeing Crown Immunity lifted from infested premises that could not have been prosecuted while it was in force.

Peter received an award from the Institute of Public Relations for his part in the "Hospitals Can Damage Your Health" campaign, which also led to a standard contract for pest control for all National Health hospitals.

Peter Bateman (right) on behalf of the BPCA receives the Sword of Excellence from the Institute of Public Relations in 1986

Peter wrote about his life and his career in the pest control industry in PPC61 after his retirement. He briefly touched on some of the highlights of his public relations career, stating: "Sometimes we can make headlines: sometimes they are made for us."

You can read the full article on our website here.

Nicholas Donnithorne FLS FRES, UK Technical Services Manager of Rentokil Property Care, said:

"As news of his passing has emerged, Peter has been remembered with fondness and respect by all who worked with him. A quiet methodical man with that wonderful voice and chuckle, he was a great speaker and educator who had time for everyone, whatever your position in the company. He felt it was important to educate the "great British public" and would often speak to evening groups such as the WI.

"From the time he arrived at Rentokil in 1962 until his retirement in 1995, he was a steady pair of PR hands through historic moments including the company stock flotation in 1969. His hard work and reputation were rewarded by many honorary fellowships.

"Outside of work his life rotated around family, church and work for local good causes. To see Peter and Joan together, told you all you needed to know about their relationship.

"For over 40 years, Peter and I shared a mutual interest in Gardening and Natural History, particularly birds and insects. I was honoured to work with him and call him a friend".

A Thanksgiving Service for his life will be held on Friday 17 January at St John’s Church, Felbridge, RH19 2QT at 1.30 pm. Anyone wishing to attend should contact Nicholas in advanced.

Source: Online

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