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Obituary: Gerry Peterson

Gerry Peterson, assistant to Reuters correspondents in The Hague in the 1970s and 1980s, has died at the age of 83. He had fought cancer for several years.

Initially seconded from the English bulletin desk of the Dutch news agency ANP, Gerry later joined Reuters’ staff and became a mainstay of coverage of the Netherlands over many years.

Scott Thornton, who worked with him from 1978 to 1981, said: “Gerry was a marvellous ambassador for Reuters. His natural charm was enhanced by a velvety smooth voice which would have done credit to an old-style BBC announcer. His great knowledge of the Netherlands and contacts throughout the country were invaluable for a succession of correspondents and visitors.

“Whenever strains arose in Reuters’ relationship with ANP, which had been the exclusive distributor of Reuters services in the Netherlands until the company set up its own operation, they were generally soothed by his diplomacy and good humour.

“A straightforward, honourable man, he won great respect from a vast range of individuals and organisations. His social staying power was immense and he was usually one of the last guests to leave receptions where his contacts included catering staff who knew his favourite tipple was Dutch gin rather than other more grandiose drinks offered to mere ambassadors, sports stars and captains of industry.”

He and his Dutch wife Lis had the most romantic and traumatic of first encounters: he was a young lieutenant on a British warship taking prisoners of war home from Singapore in 1945; she was a beautiful teenager who had just been released after several years in a Japanese internment camp.

Born near Croydon in Surrey (he remained a staunch supporter of Crystal Palace football club), Gerry and Lis moved to the Hague after the War and had two daughters and one son during the happiest of marriages.

Gerry Peterson died on 29 May. He is survived by his wife, children and seven grandchildren. ■