Peter Rawcliffe

Dr Peter Rawcliffe was a founding member of the Oxford Flood Alliance who played a pivotal role in the organisation until his death on 14 December 2020. Peter did a great deal to advance the interests of flood-affected communities in Oxford, having experienced flooding personally on several occasions. He was a thoughtful and courteous individual, always willing to listen to others’ views, but also a forceful and determined advocate for what he believed to be right.

Photo: Kirsty Edmonds/Oxford Mail

Peter came to Oxford in 1978 and worked first in medical research, and later as a GP. He retired from general practice in 2000, but continued to give generously of his time to try to help the local  community. We owe him a great deal and he will be sorely missed.

Following his death many people shared their appreciation of Peter and all that he stood for. Here are some comments from those he worked with in the flooding community:

Peter leaves such a wonderful legacy. He approached things with a perfect combination of tenacity and charm that made things happen. He made people want to help – a rare gift.

Amanda Nobbs, former Chair of Thames Regional Flood and Coastal Committee (Jul 2009–Jul 2017)

Peter was always a huge support to me in my quest to promote property flood resilience. He was one of my very first case studies and indeed a case study to Sir Michael Pitt after the 2007 floods. He has left a huge legacy.

Mary Donhau, national flood expert and former Chair of the National Flood Forum

I was so sorry to hear the sad news of Peter’s death. I certainly looked to him as both a personal friend and colleague. Over the years, his influence grew and he helped change attitudes to flooding: nationally, not just in Oxford. Many decision-makers took on board lessons learned from Peter and his experience.

Keith Hutchence

On behalf of the whole SENDRA [St Ebbes New Development Residents Association] community I would like to express our sadness on hearing the news of Peter’s death.  Over many years, we have greatly valued his opinions and effort on our behalf. 

Chris Knight, SENDRA Chair

We were so very sorry to hear about Peter. We met him first in June 2015, and had the pleasure of showing him and Maggie around the residential boat moorings in Weirs Orchard on Weirs Mill Stream. He was most helpful in our efforts to influence the Environment Agency’s plans for Weirs Mill Stream and in attempting to keep this watercourse clear of fallen trees. He was always friendly, supportive and professional and was a determined and impressive driving force in the OFA. We will miss him.

John and Val Burbank

Working with Peter was always a pleasure. Even as a strong advocate of the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme his questioning, quick of mind and critical friend approach is something we will miss. We know his friends on OFA will keep this up as we move forward to deliver the scheme Peter worked so hard to promote. My meetings with Peter often felt like a mini-inquiry, but they were always undertaken in a friendly, constructive manner and always looking at how we could make the scheme better for everyone. 

Richard Harding, Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme Project Executive

The Oxford Mail paid tribute to Peter in an editorial published on 9 January 2021. Here is an extract:

As a founder member of the Oxford Flood Alliance, he [Peter] spent the years when he could have been resting and relaxing tirelessly campaigning for better treatment for the people of his city.

He met ministers, Prime Ministers, top brass at institutions like the Environment Agency – and he didn’t just meet them either: he helped to shape policy, including the £150 million (or whatever the latest price tag is) Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme.

Without Dr Rawcliffe, this monumental plan of civil engineering might never even have been drawn up.

Peter Rawcliffe was a people’s champion and we were lucky to have him.

The Oxford Mail obituary of Peter, published on 14 January 2021, provides further details about his life.