Wed, 24 July, 2024

Peter Cook

Posted: April 22nd, 2021

PETER COOK, intrepid Sunday Mirror photographer and the NUJ FoC for many years, died yesterday, April 21 [2021]. He had been suffering from Alzheimer’s for some years.

His wife Rosemary said: “Peter was my soulmate and we were married for 57 years. He was a sensitive, tranquil and generous character and I shall miss him so much. The number of cards and messages testify to the fact that he was a lovely man and well regarded.

“The last six months proved very difficult for him as Alzheimer’s took its grip, and I also ended up having a hip replacement at the beginning of March. Although Peter was only diagnosed in July, 2018, the disease became very agressive at the end – there is no pattern but he passed peacefully, thankfully.

“I want to thank you for the lovely tribute on the Mirror pensioners’ website. My family and I found it so comforting to read. It was also lovely to read that Peter was valued as an FOC – something he enjoyed and relished, but who would have believed that he would have had to deal with all the Maxwell saga at the time on behalf of members?

“Peter’s service is on May 11 (2021) at 3.00pm and will be live-streamed, and people can view for 28 days afterwards. (Details here:  Username: veme1313  Password: 018001)

“We have to date raised £500 for Alzheimer’s and The Forget Me Not Choir. We hope to put the photographic tribute that is part of the service on YouTube at a later date. My sincere thanks for Mirror pensioners’ support.”

Donations for Peter can be made here:

Peter started work as a tape room boy at the Mirror in December 1954. In 1957 he began a five-year apprenticeship in the Darkroom, attending the London School of Printing and Graphic Arts – City & Guilds.

He left the Darkroom in 1966 and joined the Sunday Mirror as a permanent casual photographer covering sport, features, fashion etc. In 1971, he became a staff photographer on the Sunday Mirror, taking up the NUJ FoC mantle in 1977. Later, he was also an assistant picture editor on the Daily Mirror.

Peter retired to Wales with his family 2005. He was an active member of the Labour Party, the Co-Operative Party of Wales, and a Life member of the NUJ.

Peter was very proud to be his wife Rosemary’s consort when she became Town Mayor of Penarth in 2015. We carried this feature in Mirror Pensioner:

MONTY COURT: What very, very sad news. My first encounter with Peter was back in the mid-60s – and I don’t think he ever changed. He was always cheerful. Always enthusiastic. Indeed, I don’t think I would recognise him if he didn’t have a smile on his face. A smashing colleague at all times – and a very fine FoC of the Sunday Mirror’s NUJ chapel. It was a privilege to have known him and worked with him. Thanks Pete.

JEAN CARR: I learned my first real lessons about Fleet Street journalism from working with photographers such as Peter Cook rather than anything I was taught on IPC’s Plymouth training scheme.

When I joined the Sunday Mirror in London in 1973 after two years in the Manchester office, I was apprehensive about being the first of the “Plymouth Brethren” to work in the newsroom, aware that some senior journalists were pretty derogatory about the IPC university graduate trainees. I guess my best calling card was that I had been the first Mother of the Chapel in the Sunday Mirror Manchester office, a role nailed by one contemporary management MD as “the worst career move” I’d made.

Without news editor Monty Court, my office-based mentor, and photographers such as Peter and Carl Bruin as my on-the-road guides, I would not have survived those early years. Ronnie Maxwell inducted me into the mysteries of expenses, Roy Spicer and Bill Hamilton on the sacrosanct lunch break – “an hour and half at least”, and Anne Pacey on “tea breaks across the road at 5.30”.

Peter helped show me how to handle newsdesk demands, appease bad tempered, late-night copytakers, drove me miles to find a working telephone box in the middle of nowhere so I could file copy, and made sure I got home safely.

I joined Peter in the Sunday Mirror Chapel (as a long-serving clerk), along with committee members Alan Burns and Colin Wills. My “second-worst career move”, warned another management executive.

My favourite memories of Peter, and those of my husband Louis, are evenings spent at Peter’s home in Radlett with his wife Rosemary and daughters Natasha and Francesca. He was so proud of them and their musical talents. Good food, wine, music and a loving family to come home to was what he cared about most.


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