I had been to my first demo as a gay man when, at the age of 61, I discovered that there was to be a gathering outside the British Consulate at Circular Quay in April 1988 to protest Margaret Thatcher's introduction of clause 28 into the British Parliament. This clause was as homophobic as they come. It was an attempt to stop any mention of homosexuality in schools and also an attempt to prevent gay teachers being employed in government schools. It was a vicious attack and was so outrageous in its discrimination and vilification that it needed to be protested as much as possible and wherever possible.
At this demonstration I was informed that it was being held by a group called Gay Solidarity which held regular meetings at members' homes because they didn't have enough money to have their own premises.
The meeting to which I was invited - my first ever meeting to a specifically gay event - was to be held at Peter Collard's flat. Coincidentally, at that meeting I met Kendall Lovett, my partner, and the rest, as they say, is history!
Peter Collard became a very good friend and over the years he demonstrated what true friendship meant when we established the Sydney Park AIDS Memorial Groves on 15 May 1994. Peter must have come to every tree planting from then on up to and including the last one on 31 July 2011.
Peter's other persona was Sister Mary Mary Quite Contrary and it was in his Sisterly capacity that MMQC, as he was fondly known, mustered members of the Order of Perpetual Indulgence to come to tree plantings and do a "Blessing of the Trees" at every event.
Peter was an ongoing member of Lesbian and Gay Solidarity as the group became in 1992 after changing its name from Gay Solidarity, and contributed items to the LGS newsletter when possible.
Peter set up our web site in 1999 and taught me how to upload items to our pages and we are eternally grateful for all the hard work he did over the years to help us in whatever way he could.
Peter's life was complicated by the fact that he had a Thai partner who subsequently died of AIDS, leaving a grieving Peter and a son and other relatives in Thailand.
In fact Peter was due to spend November 2011 in Thailand when he seems to have been found dead in his flat in Randwick about 24 October 2011.
We still have no information about his death, but we are profoundly saddened and affected by his death at the very young age of mid-fifties!
We will ensure that trees are planted for Peter in the Groves which he came to love so much.
We will miss you Peter!
The following item was on page 9 of the newsletter of the New South Wales Anti-Discrimination Board issue "Equal Time Number 83 Summer 2011: