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Obituary: Roger Perrot

Features | Published:

ROGER ALLEN PERROT was born on Wednesday 22 May 1946 to Alfred and Olga (nee Brouard) Perrot.

Alfred, who was originally from Jersey, was a grower who was also involved in the building trade. The family lived in a bungalow along the Marais Lane and, as staunch Methodists, attended Galaad Church. Roger went to Hautes Capelles Primary School where, with encouragement from his teacher Miss Gossett, he began a lifelong love of reading and books.

‘His pleasure in good literature and the well-written book – as well as an almost pedantic attachment to the rules of good grammar – were evident in his own letters,’ said long-time friend John Bridle, who spoke at his funeral. ‘He took delight in regularly winning crossword prizes in the Daily Telegraph competitions. He set himself the task of reading all the novels of Trollope and PG Wodehouse – and succeeded.’

Passing the scholarship to Elizabeth College, Roger joined Form 3B in September 1957 where he quickly became friends with another scholarship boy, Jerry Girard, and a younger pupil at Beechwood, Nik van Leuven.

Nik van Leuven, Roger Perrot and Jerry Girard during their 1993 cabaret act, Perrot's Folly. (24339435)

‘I vividly remember meeting Roger, who was an unusual little boy,’ recalled Nik. ‘Bright and twinkly with a lovely sense of humour. We became firm friends. I invited him and several other boys to my birthday tea. We lived on Route de Sausmarez at the time. Roger and the others tied me up and left me on the wall of what is now the Ambassador Hotel. My mother served them tea without even noticing I was missing. Roger was clever, entertaining and amusing. He reinvented himself.

‘As we moved into the teenage years, Roger began to flourish and gained in both stature and confidence,’ said Jerry, who also paid tribute at Roger’s funeral. ‘He liked being in the limelight and in fact we both ended up together acting in a performance of The Taming of the Shrew. This stage appearance was a precursor to Roger, Nik and myself doing a Fred Astaire song and dance act on the stage at St James in Roger’s wonderful production, Perrot’s Folly, dancing and singing to On the Sunny Side of the Street.

‘Several other similar charity cabaret shows followed and, in one of them, I found myself dancing with Roger, who was dressed as a stewardess, resplendent in a pair of size 10 high heels. This culminated in Roger performing a pole dance on the stage of St James, which brought the house down.’

At college he flourished, becoming a prefect and finally senior prefect. He would later go on to be one of the college’s most generous benefactors financially and hold many positions such as senior director, chairman and patron of the College Foundation, chairman of the Gibson Fleming Trust and president of the Old Elizabethan Association.

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‘When he passed the scholarship to Elizabeth College his parents were both delighted and proud,’ said Jerry. ‘However, there is no doubt that they had to make significant personal sacrifices to support him and I know that Roger was always hugely grateful to them for doing so.’

In fact, in recognition of a donation that Roger made to the college some years ago, a facility there was named the AJ Perrot Room after his father.

After Elizabeth College he went to the Royal Military College of Science at Shrivenham, Oxfordshire, where, in 1968, he graduated with a degree in physics. He had a short spell in the Army but, realising that military life wasn’t for him, he went on to attend Woolwich Polytechnic. He never finished his course and worked for a while in London for American Express before returning to Guernsey.

Back on-island, Jerry described Roger as ‘a bit of a lost soul’.

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‘Then, at an Old Elizabethan Association dinner, he happened to chat to Nik, who had himself just been called to the Bar.’

‘After he returned to Guernsey he was a drayman by day and a barman by night,’ said Nik. ‘The day I was called to the Bar in July 1971 there was an OEA dinner and Roger was there. We got chatting and I knew things weren’t going right. I invited him to the Prince of Wales after work on Friday. I said: “Why don’t you come and work with me at Percy Ozanne’s [law practice] and study for the Bar, with the intention of becoming an advocate?”

‘By God he worked. No one worked harder than Roger. We worked by day and studied at night. I remember him in one of those little offices on Court Row, fag in mouth, bashing out divorce petitions on the typewriter. We had fun and adventures building it up into a successful firm. We lived in each other’s pocket.’

Roger was called to the Bar – Inner Temple – in 1974 and became a Guernsey advocate in 1975. He was made a partner a year later, held the position of Bâtonnier (Chairman of Guernsey Bar Council) from 1999 to 2001 and became senior partner in 2002.

‘The American Express office where he had worked was by The Savoy, so when he was at the Inner Temple we would go to The Savoy for lunch and Roger would call in to American Express and see all his ex-colleagues,’ said Nik.

Around this time, said Jerry, Roger met Caroline Williams.

‘There is no doubt in my mind that Caroline had a huge influence over Roger. She encouraged and supported him and introduced him to the finer things in life, which they shared together for the many happy years that they spent together. In short, she helped to make Roger a more rounded person who loved opera, antiques and art.’

Nik agreed.

‘He was lucky to meet Caroline. She was a tremendous influence on his life. She was key to making him broader-minded and a more rounded person.’

John Bridle also stressed Caroline’s indelible influence on his friend.

‘He would be the first to admit that the Guernsey Bar gave him intellectual presence and confidence. His dearest Caroline, supportive and wise for so many years, gave him social skills. She smoothed the rough edges and extended the cultural horizons.’

Caroline died on 12 April 2018, aged 85.

John also spoke of Roger’s faith.

‘Conservative by nature, Roger became a staunch member of the traditionalist wing of the Church of England, robustly attached to the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and the language of the King James Bible.

‘His spirituality found another form in Freemasonry. Not as some misguided folk would have it, because of its wrongly perceived secrecy or misrepresented exclusiveness and rituals, but simply because its principals of brotherly love, charity and the search for intellectual enlightenment appealed to him.

‘He was an active and senior Freemason for over 40 years and it gave him much pride and pleasure.’

John Bridle and Roger hiking in Picos de Europa, northern Spain.

Roger entered local politics in 1982 as a People’s Deputy for St Peter Port, holding office for two three-year terms. He joined the Ancient Monuments Committee and the States Telecommunications Board and later that year he was also elected to the Post Office Board.

Following his re-election to the States in 1985 he became president of the States Electricity Board as well as president of the Post Office Board. He was further elected to the Constitution of the States Review Committee and later on the Constitutional Advisory Panel.

He did not seek re-election in 1988 but would return to the States in 2012, having topped the election poll out West with 2,266 votes.

With work taking up so much of his life, Roger made the most out of his leisure time. He loved sailing, skiing and flying and, at get-togethers at his house, a round or two of ‘rough croquet’, keeping the players topped up with Pimm’s poured from a watering can.

He also liked to test himself.

‘He liked a challenge,’ said John. ‘His learning to fly a helicopter was such a challenge and he simply loved being scared witless in a four-man bobsleigh on the Cresta Run. People have said that there was much of Toad in The Wind in the Willows in his make-up. Not the stupid, boastful Toad but the Toad of quick enthusiasms, a thrill-seeker, getting into scrapes.’

One such ‘thrill-seeking’ pastime was heli-skiing (off-trail, downhill skiing reached by helicopter), at which Roger was skilled. A companion was his godson, James Ridout.

‘The first time we went was to The Cariboos in Canada for a week. Beforehand, a lady got on our bus and asked what experience we had. Roger had done nearly 20 weeks’ skiing and had clocked up millions of vertical feet. I’d only ever been skiing on nursery slopes during a stag do. She wasn’t going to let me do it but Roger said: “He’ll be OK, he’ll be skiing with me.”

‘We did a business deal during that trip and named a development in Guernsey The Cariboos.’

Roger would always have Christmas morning breakfast with James.

‘This Christmas I took my son, who was four weeks old, but even then, at 11am Christmas morning, he gave me a grilling over a property. He was brilliant.’

The final words are best left to his old friend Jerry Girard, who perhaps summed up Roger to all who loved him.

‘We shared an enormous amount of fun and laughter together over the years. Roger – my world, our world, is very much poorer for your passing. I will miss you my old friend.’

. Roger Allen Perrot. Born Wednesday 22 May 1946, died at Les Bourgs Hospice on Sunday 3 March 2019, aged 72 years. The funeral service was at St Saviour’s Parish Church on Friday 15 March.

Shaun Shackleton

By Shaun Shackleton
Features reporter

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