Peter Greville 14.7.1930 – 4.10.2012

Peter Greville, Photographer, Drummer, Granpa

Peter Greville, Photographer, Drummer, Granpa



The following piece was originally written by Janie Greville as her contribution to the Conference for World Mental Health Day held at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, on 10.10.2012.

“I would like to use this opportunity to say a few words about Hope and Communication in the course of our lives – and in the lives, particularly, of those journeying within the medical health and care services.

In my years of experience as a person suffering a diagnosis of a ‘severe and enduring mental illness’ and suffering distress related to such labelling, I have had reason to focus on the concepts of Hope and Communication in the provision of Mental Health Services. It has only been the experience of accompanying and watching my father suffer and then die, however, that has opened my eyes to the pivotal role that these two dimensions of care play in health care as a whole.

My father was unexpectedly bereaved seven years ago. Perhaps had anyone noticed he had lost his wife and was running mad with grief a more humane approach to him would have produced a happier – and indeed cheaper – outcome for all concerned.

Sadly, in consequence of a health crisis some thirty five years earlier, his abandonment terrors, his separation anxieties, his intensely anxious and agitated response to loss (a double loss, as his small much beloved dog died soon afterwards), his loneliness, his loss of raison d’être as his wife and dog’s carer – were all misinterpreted and  medicalised.

The unfortunate, not to say tragic, outcome of this error led to my father spending the last six and a half years of his life locked up in a psychiatric hospital, bewildered by his imprisonment, effectively gagged by his label, rendered  powerless in almost every regard and frankly.

He simply didn’t receive the compassionate care and support he needed to acknowledge and deal with his devastated feelings in relation to the loss of his wife.

Yet – every member of staff I met had moving humane love for my father; his care was far from devoid of tenderness and kindness. It was simply that no one had the lenses to see the appropriate context. So much got lost in translation that my father may as well have been speaking Japanese – indeed, at least if he had been talking Japanese a translator could have been called!

These reflections follow ten days of acute concern over my father’s physical health before he died with unexpected rapidity following what could be regarded as a small but significant treatment error. Interestingly, since losing his ‘Nth’ tribunal in February this year, and losing hope along with it, he lost his physical voice. My aunt and I spoke to the staff and were consistently reassured that his whispering wasn’t grounded in physical causes. He never got beyond a whisper again.

He was diagnosed with advanced and terminal cancer of the lungs and throat on 28th September and died quietly in the nearby general hospital a week later.

Presumably the death certificate will mention throat and lung.

What killed my father, however, I suggest, was such a prolonged and unalleviated period of voicelessness, powerlessness and most of all, growing hopelessness that he simply no longer wanted to live.  Cancer was merely the vehicle for his escape, its specific placing the poetic expression of his unmet needs.

NB This was written on Monday 8th October in a wave of grief and shock over my father’s death. I shall probably reflect upon and extend it in due course. For now, however, it contains much that I think whilst omitting much additional qualification and additional layering that would alter some of its impressions.


  1. Aw, this was a really nice post. In idea I would like to put in writing like this additionally – taking time and actual effort to make a very good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate alot and by no means seem to get something done.

  2. 2
    gracelol Says:

    Reblogged this on Beneath the Throne and commented:

    My father, ‘Anthony Pierre Greville’ on birth certificate, was ubiquitously known as ‘Pete’ & ‘Petey’. He was a drummer, photographer and bullshitter of the most delightful variety. He also played the guitar, the piano and the heart strings. I am very much his daughter, though a painter more than a musician and my photography is untutored in the sense that his music was untutored, thus the highest of his achievements. Since his death I’ve felt him closer in my life and he remains the inspiration in my life for self acceptance and self-assertion and expression – it worked for him, I sense that the truer I am to myself the better life will work for/with me..

  3. 3
    Terry Says:

    To Peters children, I have many happy memories of your father, as I worked with him at the studios in Watford in the 60s, after leaving school. I remember yourselves, as two lttle girls, who often visited the studios, and the family Doll, Jean, Peter, Dick, and Ivor.
    I am very sorry to here of Peter’s death, as he was a very kindly person.
    Terry Piper.

    • 4
      gracelol Says:

      Thank you so much Terry: I have had a great deal of difficulty coming to terms with the loss of my father following his untimely death last year. I have angry feelings with the NHS and angry feelings with a few other individuals involved in his referrals to MHS services and so any genuine feelings of respect and liking and memories of my father are so very welcome, particularly at the moment.



  4. 5
    Terry Says:

    Dear Janie, Thank you for your kind message, I am just so sorry that I did not have a chance to see the family in later years, although I often thought about them. When I left Grevilles in 1966, I started my own studios down on the southcoast near Chichester in Sussex. However, we found it very difficult to survive just on photography, and so added to the business, a retail photographic devision, of which I think Peter new about. Eventually, we moved to a place called Emsworth, by the sea, about seven miles from Chichester, where we remained in business for a further 30 years, before retirement. Originally, Peter interviewed me for a position as a trainee, and I assisted Peter on many engagements, with much champagne flowing, usually on weddings. I worked with Peter much of the time in the darkroom, when we were not at functions, and carried out a number of asignments myself when we were very busy. I recognised his picture above on this website, and of course being older in the picture, it was still the Peter I used to know. When you see Jean next time, and I hope she is still keeping well, please mention my name, Terry, who left and moved to the southcoast, and although she may not remember me, send her my very best wishes, and to you both, a pleasant Christmas & New Year.


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