Nik van Leuven, former Knight Commander of St John Guernsey pays tribute to our first Knight Commander, Captain Peter Voute who died in February, aged 85.

An Old Elizabethan whose academic achievements at school yielded to his skills and energies as an enthusiastic shot and sportsman, Peter Voute had a distinguished Naval career, including Fleet Air Arm duties and posts, diplomatic assignments including as Naval Attaché in Madrid, besides sea commands and operational service in various areas of confrontation eg Borneo/Indonesia, and which included teaching the King when Prince of Wales to fly helicopters.  He retired from active service in 1992 to the no less exacting combats engendered by the UK Government’s assaults on the countryside as a senior executive of the Countryside Alliance. He was one of the organisers of the Countryside Rally, and later the Countryside March, both of which encouraged great support for the retention of traditional  countryside pursuits.

On his returning to Guernsey in the early 2000’s, as then Chairman of the St John Council I asked him to become involved with St John, and in particular to review and reorganise its cumbersome and inappropriate voluntary Divisional structure, a project he undertook with characteristic efficiency and precision, and in the result a much leaner and more effective voluntary St John emerged. He succeeded me as Chairman of the St John Council in 2008, and was appointed to the office of Knight Commander on the Bailiwick’s St John activities and undertakings being transferred from the Priory of England and the Islands of the Order to the locally incorporated Commandery in July 2012, in order to give St John in the Bailiwick the independence it deserved as a Crown Dependency. In his dealings to establish the Commandery with the Priory and the Order of St John, he proved a skilled but pragmatic negotiator, and the eventual success of these new arrangements demonstrate the sense and value of his contribution.

Peter married Marta Blad, of the notable Guernsey family, who was a delightful companion, yet a discerning foil. Sadly, due to her illness, he had to step down as Knight Commander sooner than anticipated, but his contribution to the establishment of the Commandery and its subsequent achievements cannot be overemphasised. Peter’s life and career were marked by a sense of duty and discipline, and the maintenance of standards of conduct which he set himself and expected of others; yet he was a thoroughly engaging and interesting, besides modest, gentleman and his ever-courteous manner and characteristic efficiency were hard to match. St John locally owes him much.

Nik van Leuven KStJ.

Posted: March 25, 2024