Peter Knight RIP
Sadly my friend and business partner, Peter Knight, died on the 2nd November 2013. He was an integral part of this project and his advice and wisdom will help shape its development. He will be greatly missed but his input will remain in spirit. The following is his obituary - first published in Future & The Inventor (the journal of the Institute of Patentees and Inventors) Autumn 2013
A Knight of Surprises...
By David Wardell
It is with a heavy heart that I have to pen these words in memory and celebration of my old friend Peter Knight. Peter was first diagnosed with inoperable and terminal prostate cancer some seven years ago. Sadly, on the 2nd November, the cancer finally caught up with him and he died, peacefully, in the early hours of the morning. He was aged only 60.
Since 1998, Peter had served as a director and council member of the Institute of Patentees and Inventors. During that time, and right up until the end, he worked tirelessly to champion the cause of the inventor. Those of us who were lucky enough to know him would recognise him as a polymath – a true renaissance man. He also had a wicked sense of humour.
Peter was born, in Bournemouth, on the 7th April 1953. As a toddler he and his family moved to Southampton where, apart from a brief sojourn to Luton – as a schoolteacher, he was both to remain and make his mark. He was educated to ‘O’ and ‘A’ level at Richard Taunton College and then attended Exeter University where in 1974, he attained a BSc. (Hons) in mathematics and in 1975 his Certificate in Education. Professionally he was also a C.Eng (Chartered Engineer) and M.B.C.S. (British Computer Society). He was also, of course, a FInst.PI.
As previously mentioned from 1975-6, Peter started his career as a schoolteacher in Luton. From 1976-80 he was a computer programmer for a Southampton based logistics company. From 1980-85 he worked as a Project Leader for Skandia Life and from 1985-93 a Data Processing Manager for SMH (UK) Ltd. (the import and repair of Swiss watches – Omega and Swatch). 1993 was something of a turning point for Peter. In collaboration with the operations manager at SMH, he invented, designed and implemented a unique computerised system for handling the repair of watches in a new, cheaper and more efficient manner. For this work he was a finalist and medallist in the prestigious British Computer Society Annual Awards. This was also the year that – through a mutual friend, Derek Myhill (sadly killed in a car accident a few years ago) – Peter and I met. The three of us were somewhat bored with our day jobs and we were all passionate about the business of inventing. For this reason we founded and set-up the Intellectual Property Development Confederation (IPDC), a national (and subsequently international) support group for amateur inventors.
Those were heady days. Being (largely) prior to email and the internet, we spread the word through mail shots, word of mouth and agitating in the press. Within a couple of years we had gone from nothing to having several hundred members. During this time we had produced a newsletter – The Inventrepreneur – which was very well received. Due to this, and with just a £500 overdraft facility, in the spring of 1995 Inventors World magazine was born.
I remember how proud Peter and I were when we first saw ‘our baby’ on sale at the newsstands. There is not room here to chronicle our exploits around the world but Peter was a powerhouse at this time. He was presented with many awards from the international invention community. He was particularly chuffed to win a gold medal for the ‘Promotion of Invention’ at INPEX – the USA’s largest Inventors trade fair staged in Pittsburgh PA. As a business partner he was a joy to work with – fearless, hardworking, clever, inventive and, above all, tremendous fun. He was the driving force behind several projects: our bid for a National Innovation Centre (which was turned down for National Lottery funding as being ‘not distinctive enough’ – go figure!); he organised ‘Sparks’ an inventors exhibition and science fair in Southampton which was very well received; he co-authored/edited a book with Derek Myhill ‘The Women Inventors’; etc, etc. Looking back it is hard to believe just how much he was able to achieve.
By 1998, Peter and I had realised that it was not practical to have two inventor groups with the same aims and serving the same audience. We successfully merged our organisation with the IPI. Since then, Peter served as a council member and was very pleased to share his abilities with the Institute. Sadly we had to fold Inventors World magazine. Despite its popularity, we could never attract enough advertising revenue to make it commercially viable. This did not stifle Peter’s love of the industry though, and he was always thinking of new ways to help the lone inventor.
For most of us, there would not be enough time to pursue other interests. Not Peter! For many years he served as a Scout Leader. He was, for a long time, Chairman of his local (Highfield) Residents Association. He took a great interest in local politics – so much so that he formed his own party – Southampton First – and stood as an independent candidate for Southampton City Council. He didn’t win a seat but achieved a very creditable number of votes. He was a director of a local Arts Charity and board member of a local Film Club. He was incurably interested in all things. If you asked Peter for help you would get it – in spades. He was incredibly able to get on with everyone he met and made many staunch friends.
For the past year or so, Peter’s health declined so that he was unable to travel easily. This didn’t deter him though – Peter was born for the communication age and he kept in touch with his interests, and his friends, through the wonders of modern technology. In the last year I became his de facto carer and was fortunate to be with him nearly every day. We spent our time together shooting the breeze and fondly reminiscing about our times and travels together. We mused about writing a book chronicling our adventures. Maybe one day, but it won’t be the same without Peter to help me.
There is so much more I could tell you about Peter but I, like he, will have to stop somewhere. In the end Peter left us very quickly and unexpectedly. Only a few weeks before his death Peter was prescribed a new ‘wonder drug’ and his consultant predicted that he would have ‘another year or two’. Sadly this was not to be. Since his passing there have been a huge number of condolences and tributes sent from around the world. It is amazing just how many people, from all walks of life, that Peter made a connection with. Nearly all of their messages remember and describe him as a very nice man and a true gentleman. For those of us who knew him he truly was a Knight to remember.
Peter did love his football!
'Invention Scout' Peter meets 'Eureka' Jonsson on Planet Mirth!
This spoof was questionably funny - but Peter gamely played along.
Peter and David in Monte Carlo, Monaco, 1996
Peter, making an exhibition of himself, at INPEX, Pittsburgh,USA
The late Derek Myhill - Co-founder of the IPDC and Co- author (with Peter) of The Women Inventors