Unbroken Threads

Learning, Resilience and Lessons Hard Earned


Peter Pickering

3/7/20243 min read

Sgt Roland Pickering B.E.M. in uniform standing in front of a group of people
Sgt Roland Pickering B.E.M. in uniform standing in front of a group of people

In the tranquil corners of Warwickshire, UK, the echoes of two names would resonate with a profound sense of caution and treachery – Ken Roberts and Cyril Peyton, both shrewd businessmen. Their paths crossed with my father's, a decorated sergeant of the Royal Air Force, commended with the British Empire Medal for his service in the civil war-afflicted Aden in the early '60s.

Enticed by Roberts and Peyton, Dad was coaxed into an early exit from the RAF in 1964, trading in his impending pension and a well-earned reputation for the promise of financial prosperity. The allure of managing their burgeoning garage business in Gaydon, Warwickshire, seemed to be the golden ticket to a comfortable civilian life.

Roberts and Peyton, however, had deceit simmering beneath their veneer of amiable businessmen. Within a year, their elaborate enterprise crumbled, leaving my father stranded, jobless. Yet, as the dust settled, Roberts and Peyton emerged unscathed, leaving Dad to deal with the wreckage they left behind.

From this unfortunate saga, I see strands of my own reflection in my father's resilience, determination, and unyielding commitment, qualities that saw him through the aftermath of the ill-fated venture. From his experiences, I learned the virtue of caution, especially in business relationships. Time and again, I've faced duplicity where I sought partnership, causing me to reconsider my stance on trust.

By 1965, our finances were precariously stretched, and my father had the daunting task of securing a safe harbour for our family. It was then that we found our refuge at 1, Avon Close in Ettington, Warwickshire. With his last remaining savings as a deposit, Dad bought this house for £4,600, a safe haven that stood as a testament to his determination.

Facing a struggle that seemed insurmountable, with a family to support and financial resources nearly depleted, my father was a figure of unwavering resolve. As I would come to realise, he was not one to bow before adversity. His decision to seek opportunity in the arid expanses of Saudi Arabia wasn't as far-fetched as it may sound. His prior experience with the RAF, particularly his posting to Aden in South Arabia, had imbued him with a measure of familiarity and confidence in the harsh climes of the Middle East.

Thus, he embarked on this arduous journey, leaving behind the familiarity of Warwickshire to step into the unknown. The land of Saudi Arabia, despite its challenging environment, promised handsome rewards for those willing to endure and work hard. Armed with this knowledge and the drive to secure a future for us, he strode fearlessly into this new chapter of his life.

His journey, fraught with trials and setbacks, imprinted upon me a legacy of resilience, dedication, and an acute sense of discernment. From him, I learned to navigate life's unpredictable currents. I saw the value of trust, and the caution that must accompany it, play out in his story. And so, as I reflect on the past betrayals and lessons hard-earned, I see in myself the embodiment of my father's spirit: steadfast, discerning, and endlessly resilient.

In Saudi Arabia, my father found employment with notable companies. His industrious nature and unmatched work ethic landed him contracts with not one but three distinct firms, each a giant in its respective field. Among them were the construction behemoth of the Bin Laden family, Glenhill Furnishing, and the oil titan Saudi Aramco, each eight-month contract presenting unique challenges that he faced head-on. The allure of high pay these companies offered was what spurred him to persevere, despite spending eight months at a time away from home. Little did he know then that one of these family names would later echo infamously around the world for entirely different reasons.

However, his gruelling tenure began to pay off gradually. Through sheer sweat and unyielding perseverance, he managed to restore our shaky financial footing. His unwavering resolve, illuminated even under those challenging circumstances, served as a beacon for us, guiding our family out of the financial tempest and into the calm.

© Peter Pickering 2024. www.peterpickering.com