In response to the global coronavirus outbreak, we have implemented a strict visitor policy to safeguard the health and wellbeing of the whole school community. Please read our visitor policy before you visit the school.

Read Visitor Policy

St Peter's 13-18

John Coles

John ColesJohn Robert Coles  1946 - 2021

John was born in Peterborough and attended Westwood House School aged 5. In 1955 he joined his brother David as a boarder at St Olave's and in 1959 he moved to School House, St Peter's. He enjoyed school, especially the rugby but was not particularly keen on the academic side of things! He was always cheerful and often mischievous - once disappearing under the floor of his classroom to the amazement of his teacher and the amusement of the class! He was a popular and effective wing-forward in the 1st XV in 1963, leaving school in December 1963.

He started work as an Estate Agent in Peterborough, mainly with agricultural properties. Then followed 2 years at College in Bournemouth where he qualified as a Chartered Surveyor. He joined Edward Bailey and Son in Newark, initially working as an auctioneer at Newark Cattle Market. He became a partner and then also took on the management of rented property. In 1982 the firm was taken over and he stayed for 1-2 years  before joining 3 others in setting up a new firm in Nottingham where he practiced until 1994 when he teamed up with a friend, Chris Butterfield, an accountant.

They set up a company called Evenbrook Properties. After many months of trying, they raised a large loan to enable them to buy a portfolio of rented properties from Nationwide Building Society when it became a bank. Over the years Evenbrook has developed into one of the UK's leading Build to Rent private rented property businesses - letting and managing around 600 residential properties and a 660-bed student campus at their urban village development in Handsworth Green, North Birmingham.

Once John was invited to an "Away-Day" by Saville's at a marina on the Hamble.  In order to save time, he hired a helicopter and landed nearby. He had a great day after which the other guests made their way to a pub in Itchen. Wondering how to get there, he returned to the helicopter and the pilot flew him there, landing in an empty car park. Being a good law-abiding citizen John bought a pay-and-display ticket which he stuck on the helicopter. Later they flew home. A few days later, he received an irate letter from the chairman of the parish council asking why he had "parked" the helicopter in the car park - John wrote back explaining that there was nothing on the notice-board at the car park banning helicopters, and anyhow he had bought a ticket!!

Rugger has played a large part in his life - 1st XV at school, at College and later he played rugby for Peterborough RFC 1st XV and also for some time organised a team of OP's to play in the Peterborough sevens. He played for Newark Rugby club for many years and was President in 2020. His generosity to the club is there for all to see - "The Evenbrook Stand" and the "John Coles Bar"!

He attended the Hong Kong Sevens for 10+ years. A major event at the Sevens was a large corporate lunch for bankers and lawyers in Hong Kong. It was known as the 'long lunch' for obvious reasons. At the end of the meal, John ran an Auction of Promises at which vast amounts were bid for many luxuries such as super holidays all over the world. Over the years he raised nearly £3 million for various charities, especially Help the Heroes!

He had a ski chalet in Switzerland and enjoyed many happy holidays there with his family and friends. He has two sons and a daughter for whom he was a very proud father. He enjoyed shooting very much and often shot 2-3 times a week. He and Chris Butterfield built a Safari Lodge in Mozambique in very primitive conditions with 170 men and few, if any, machines. John flew out every six weeks to supervise the construction!

 John has always been a generous supporter of both St Peter's School and the Old Peterite Club, both financially and with his time. John enjoyed every opportunity to come to the School and attending Old Peterite events. In 2008 John set up the Coles Family Scholarship to be awarded to pupils who wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to attend St Peter's, and access a St Peter's education. John was a Governor of St Peter's from 2010-2015 and served particularly on the Property & Finance Committee where his professional experience was much appreciated. John was always proud of his connection to the School.

John was Old Peterite President from 2018-2020 and one of his aims was to ensure that all events were open to Old Peterites of all ages. In recent years John funded the Old Peterite Christmas Drinks, mulled wine following the service of Nine lessons and Carols in York Minster, and had volunteered to fund the London Drinks due to take place in 2020. John was a huge supporter of the Old Peterite Club and had followed in his brother's footsteps as Old Peterite President, the first Old Peterite brothers to both hold this title.

Kindly written by Nick Blackford (1964)