A tribute to Peter Harrison (1937-2021)

It is with great sadness we announce the death of Peter Harrison CBE. Peter was one of the University’s most loyal and generous donors which enabled the Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport (PHC) at Loughborough University to be established in 2005. His vision and legacy was, and still is, a true inspiration to the Paralympic movement by supporting grass route sports to elite educational scholarships for Paralympic athletes.

As well as having a keen driver towards business, in the telecommunications market, he was a rugby player, playing tight-head prop until the week before his 55th birthday. Peter believed that sport provides important stepping-stones to self-development. He was passionate about supporting young people with a disability and disadvantaged young people to participate and excel through sport and education.

Through the Peter Harrison Foundation, over £50 million has been donated to causes across the UK. Here at Loughborough is the PHC, a research centre whose mission is ‘to improve knowledge about Paralympic sport and to promote the substantial health and quality of life benefits that can be gained through participation in disability sport and physical activity’.

The PHC recently reached its 15-year milestone and the celebratory newsletter can be found here. The impact of the work the Foundation has funded has been recognised by many, including Sir Philip Craven (Former International Paralympic President) who at this milestone thanked Peter for his ‘belief and passion in Para sport‘.

‌Peter was profoundly interested in supporting others. Through my meetings in Reigate each year I learnt about his development of computer messages via telex, Chernikeef and his joy of sailing. He often spoke about his achievements and his 115-foot superyacht, Sojana, in which he completed many transatlantic races in, often making me run for my train as I left his offices. His motivation and dedication to sharing his life stories appeared endless, and in more recent years he often spoke to me about his grandchildren’s achievements at University, for which he was extremely proud.

Over this time, Peter became a friend – through not only his support of the Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport (PHC) but also through our mutual interest in supporting Chelsea football club. I had the pleasure each year to enjoy a match in Peter’s company with Owen my son, where he would often share his stories of life and provide words of wisdom to Owen. I know that I am one of many whose lives were enriched by this great man. The sphere of Peter’s influence was indeed large given his generous funding to Para sport, not only with support for the PHC at Loughborough University, but also significantly enhancing the Paralympic movement with other charitable contributions.

Vicky Tolfrey
Loughborough University (Director of the Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport)