Gay and Lesbian Humanist

Winter 2002-2003

Peter Danning (1928 – 2002)

by George Broadhead

Peter Danning, one of GALHA’s longest-standing members, has died at the age of 74. He died on 22 October 2002 and his humanist funeral ceremony took place at Putney Vale Crematorium on 26 October. He had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease for some time and had spent several months in hospital before being admitted to a nursing home early in October. He died suddenly of a heart attack.

Peter Danning joined the Gay Humanist Group (as GALHA was first known) in October 1979 and, since the group was formally founded in August that year, he was almost a founder member. He was co-opted onto the group’s committee in 1981 and became its treasurer. He remained a committee member and treasurer until he was forced to retire through ill health in 2001 – an impressive service of 20 years. He regularly attended, and helped at, the group’s monthly meetings at Conway Hall in London and, until his health deteriorated, he never missed an annual weekend event.

Peter was born in 1928 in Berlin and was from a Jewish family. Life for Jewish people became increasingly difficult after the Nazis came to power in 1933 and in 1937 his family managed to get out of Germany and settled in England.

In his youth Peter became very interested in buildings and had wanted to become an architect. This didn’t work out for him but he did get involved in renewing and refurbishing old houses, adding extensions and converting them into flats.

As well as becoming a committed humanist (besides GALHA, he was a longstanding member of the British Humanist Association), he became very enthusiastic about Esperanto and a fluent speaker of the language. He was a staunch member of the Esperanto Association of Britain, for which he worked tirelessly as a volunteer. He attended Esperanto conferences all over the world. He also founded, and ran more or less single-handedly, a gay Esperanto group.

Before moving to a flat in Richmond, Surrey, where he hosted many GALHA committee meetings, Peter ran a guesthouse in Twickenham and rented rooms to gay men. I found out later that these included Terry Deal, who became advertising director of Gay Times. Terry spoke to me about Peter in affectionate terms but said how pernickety he could be as a landlord!

As a person, Peter was, I think, quite conservative and traditional in his outlook. He was a quiet and rather formal man but also kind and gentle. He was also totally reliable and responsible and had a quirky sense of humour.

He was very fond of animals and was devoted to his sheepdog Shep. He became a strong vegetarian purely on the grounds that he couldn’t abide the inhumane treatment of animals.

His work for GALHA was invaluable and he will be sadly missed by all members who knew him.

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Created : Sunday, 2003-01-12 / Last updated : Wednesday, 2007-12-12
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