Peter Sheehan - 100 years on 6 May, 2023.
By Pauline Stewart.
It is fitting that the Coronation of Charles III, King of our Commonwealth, should be on the same day as local man Peter Sheehan turns 100. There was some excitement about this and the community of Whitianga joined with Peter in great enthusiasm for his birthday celebrations held at the Mercury Bay Bowling Club, Peter’s second home. Later that night, the King of the commonwealth would be crowned. In a way, Peter Sheehan is King of a realm. His realm is one of earned influence and quiet inspiration with his competent service and consistent loyalty. A shy man and not ambitious, Sheehan has lived in his community of Coromandel Peninsula since 1968. He and Daisie bought a section though they had come for holidays to Whitianga camping ground every Christmas since their children were born. Peter is one of two patrons of the Mercury Bay Bowling Club.
For over twenty years he has lovingly and faithfully cared for the grounds of the MBBC as a volunteer.
In 1970, Peter went to Papua New Guinea. His job there was to build roads and organise logging working with coal village people. He was very adept with big machinery and did similar work in Indonesia. Peter spoke about this time overseas. “I was getting nowhere for my family in Whitianga at the time. I was just working to survive. The opportunity was what I needed. It was hard at first as Daisie could not come with me, but she came later. It really helped us financially. Daisie found a good job too, doing administration at the aerodrome near to where I worked. When we came back after three years, we had our home built on our section. We were very happy.”
“When Mum died,” says Chrissie his daughter (Peter lives with Chrissie and her family), “Dad went to the bowling club every day and just bowled and bowled, sprayed the green, did the edges and the hedges - anything to keep him busy and alert, and not think about Mum.”
The Informer asked Peter, what does he think about, when reflecting on his life? “ I still think about Daisie,” he smiles. “She was a barrel of fun and she loved me. I think about how I left school at 14, to help the family. I would do farm fencing and drive the Clydesdale horses doing ploughing and disking. I didn’t think it was hard work, it was life.”
Trevor Knight, President of MBBC was MC for the day of celebrations. Trevor spoke of Peter’s achievements in bowling. “Peter joined the MBBC in 1985. He has won all the different disciplines on offer. In 2011, at 88 years of age, Peter won Singles Champion of MBBC. Even in 2015 and 2016 at age 93, his team of ‘Fours’ won the Thames Valley Championships ‘Fours’. Peter’s knowledge of what is needed for the grounds and how everything works is a treasure for all of us.”
Don Bates, ex-president of MBBC and a life member, also spoke, “Peter was a Godsend. He respected all members. In his time looking after the grounds, the grass was cleanly cut, the edge was kept immaculately in order. He was never afraid of getting stuck in. He gave his best. Though not a committee man, he was there in the background, and one could call on him for a calm perspective, ‘settle down and take it cool,’ he would say. Addressing Peter, he said, “We love your competitiveness, even now; you are utterly admired.”
David England, representing Thames Valley Bowls, said, “Trevor Knight and his team who are behind the organisation of this tremendous occasion, reveal the strength of the clubs in small towns; “It is about the people, their respect for one another, their friendship.
Peter spoke of his local involvement and achievements, “I love being part of the team and I love the satisfaction of working with others.”
This event, for Peter Sheehan is not just a birthday of someone we respect and who has lived a very long time, this day was about Peter belonging and contributing to the community as long as he has breath.”
Caption: Peter Sheehan and his birthday cake.