Fr. Peter ("Louis") Preston - Past pupil and Head of P.E. at Salvatorian College, Old Salvos goalkeeper and Chairman in the 1970's.
Taken from "Once a Salvo..." magazine February 2022.
Peter Preston was born in North Harrow on 8 September 1934 and educated from the age of 8 at the Salvatorian College. At age 11, he met Mike Neville, who was to become a life-long friend. A talent for getting things done was recognised by both peers and teachers; and by the final year 50/51, Peter was Head Boy and captain of Gabriel House and school cricket and football teams. This ability to get things done continued to show itself throughout the rest of his time as a Salvatorian.
He entered the novitiate of the Salvatorian Order in 1951, choosing the name Louis in commemoration of Louis Marie de Montfort, the great Apostle of Marian devotion. He trained for the priesthood at Christleton Hall in Chester, then the seminary for the British Province of the Salvatorian Order and he was ordained on the 29 June 1958. He returned to Salvatorian College and taught for 18 years, becoming Head of PE, a role in which he influenced many past pupils and he is fondly remembered by many - a great fan of the cross country run! In 1976 he was made Vocations Director and Superior of the Novitiate House in Birkenhead, where he became involved in the ‘Caring Church Weeks’ initiative which ran school retreats with the general theme of vocation. He initiated and ran a popular annual vocations pilgrimage to Walsingham which ran for many years.
From 1982 to 1987 he was Parish Priest of Thornbury in Bristol, during which time he was also chair of the Formations Board for the Salvatorian Order, overseeing such candidates as Fr. Michael Doherty and Fr. Alex McAllister – both of whom would become Parish Priest at St. Joseph's and Governors of the Salvatorian College. In 1987, the Provincial Superior appointed Fr Peter as a Governor of Salvatorian College. He became Chair of Governors in 2003 and continued to serve as a Governor, and in an ex officio capacity in the role of College Chaplain, ffor a total of 23 years until 2010. He then became Parish Priest of the Church of the Most Precious Blood near Borough Market in Southwark before retiring to Wealdstone in 2012. He was an enthusiastic sportsman, being a very keen distance runner and played in goal for Old Salvatorians FC, which he chaired in the 1970's and was Life President for over 40 years.
Peter had a rare gift of being able to make people feel at ease. Whether you were having a good day or bad, if you were in his company he had this ability to join either in your happiness or by talking to help you out of your sorrow or despondency. It is impossible to estimate how much good he has caused or how much sadness he has prevented. For his close friends, he has always been there, either in person or at the end of the phone and when later you reflected on the conversation, it nearly always became obvious that the solution was there all the time. It just needed a wise word from Peter to make you see it. Peter with his smiling face had a certain charisma that gave off peace and love. He had a unique spirituality about him and a special gift of inspiration and faith.
Around ten years ago his health began to deteriorate but this did not prevent him from enjoying lunches with his old classmates of long ago and the late Sister Helen. When he eventually went into St Vincent’s Nursing Home he was visited at least weekly by Lucella McCarthy, his devoted and loving carer from the Community House and Mike Neville, his friend from Salvo. However boring and certainly frustrating life in St Vincent’s may have been for such a hitherto active and articulate man, he never lost his sense of humour or spirit.
Right to the end, he retained an interest in all things Salvatorian and loved to talk about football - his beloved Arsenal in particular. - whose colours he would occasionally wear in church! He was especially glad to have been able to attend the college "re-opening” event on the 1st October last year - at which he was re-presented with his teacher graduation certificate! Peter was a priest of great devotion to the Salvatorian Order, a fair minded and supportive teacher, a colleague and a friend. He will be missed not only by his sister, Kathleen, and wider Preston family but also by the Salvatorian Family, his close friends, past pupils and those who only knew him fleetingly but touched by his love and understanding. May he rest in peace...