Lord Peter Smith

Lord Peter Smith (1956-1964)

I was born and raised in Leigh and went to Bolton School on a scholarship at 11. After Bolton School, I attended the London School of Economics, then trained as a college lecturer and taught politics and economics in colleges in London and then in Manchester. I was first elected as a Labour Councillor to Wigan Council in 1978 and became Chairman of Finance in 1982 and then Leader of the Council in 1991, and still hold that post. I have been chair of the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities and of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority. I was a board member of Manchester Airport plc from 1986 to 2006. Currently I chair the devolved GM Health Partnership Board. I was given a life peerage as Lord Smith of Leigh in 1999 for services to local government. In 2012 I was presented with honorary degree of Doctor of Laws by Manchester Metropolitan University for my contribution to regional government in Greater Manchester.

What is your connection to Bolton School? Were any other members of your family here?
My older brother attended the School and our times overlapped by three years.

What is your fondest Bolton School memory?
Attending various of the treks organised by Clifford ‘Butch’ Ingham to Scotland and Europe. They were mind-opening by visiting interesting and unusual places and developed independence and comradeship.

Did any member of teaching staff particularly inspire you while you were at School?
Frank ‘Freddie’ Greene was my form teacher for a couple of years and encouraged the whole class to do better. He was a really kind man who commanded respect and gained by his manner not by threats. His early death was a sad loss to Bolton School.

What do you feel your experience at Bolton School has given to you personally?
I am grateful to Bolton School for the intellectual rigour I developed which has enabled me to approach different problems in a systematic logical way.

What is the best career advice you can give to Bolton School pupils today?
‘Never stop learning!’ However much formal education one obtains there is much to learn in life about both practical implementation and unforeseen consequences.

What do you think about Bolton School’s 100 Campaign aim to re-establish genuine open access through its bursary fund?
Through the 100 fund bursary scheme, all pupils with ability will be able to experience and benefit from a high quality education as those like me who were only able to attend thanks to a local authority grant.