Derek Peters – an Appreciation

It is with much sadness that ME Research UK learned of the death of Derek Peters on 15th April 2021.

Derek Peters & wife Grainne pictured upon his retirement from active campaigning

Derek O’Brien Peters was born in 1932 in East Belfast, the younger of two children, to Richard Peters, (a Police Sergeant) and Eileen O’Brien Paisley.

He enjoyed a long involvement in progressive politics, taking part over many years in international causes and local campaigns and was an early advocate of civil rights e.g. being present at the inaugural meeting of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association, and indeed becoming, in due course, its Secretary. Derek was also a much respected member of the Northern Ireland Labour Party even standing in West Belfast as a candidate for the party.

Derek’s campaigning zeal was harnessed once more when diagnosed with M.E. in 1984. He became an articulate campaigner for the right of M.E. suffers to proper diagnosis and treatment when he formed, and served as Director of, the Northern Ireland Campaign for ME/CFS Healthcare. For 14 years he lobbied (amongst other issues) for the establishment of an ME/CFS clinic in Belfast before, on his 79th birthday (in 2011), he decided to ‘retire’; as he explained, “After many years of actively campaigning for improved diagnosis, treatment and medical/social support – including organising 14 scientific conferences – I thought it was time to take things easy. The world has changed enormously since I started, with Facebook and other social media arriving on the scene and new forms of campaigning emerging, so it was time to wind up the campaign and make way for fresh ideas”.

Derek was a staunch advocate for biomedical research into the illness and donated generously to our projects – as did the Northern Ireland Campaign. Describing Derek as “a great friend, whose zeal helped make high quality research into ME a reality” our co-President Dr Vance Spence paid personal tribute to a remarkable life well-lived. On behalf of the ME community, we pay tribute to his support and to his campaigning and offer our deepest sympathies to Grainne, to his daughter Professor Emmanuelle Peters, her partner Andy, Derek’s grandson Luca Besso, and to Derek’s other family, friends, and relations.

Grainne, Derek and ME Research UK’s then Chairman (now joint Hon President) Dr Vance Spence at Stormont in 2014

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