Obituaries: Peter de Vink, 'Financial Engineer' with keen commercial instinct

Peter Henry John de Vink. Born: 9 October, 1940 in Amsterdam. Died: 20 March, 2023 in Midlothian

Peter de Vink was born in the Netherlands where life as a youngster in Nazi-occupied Holland cannot have been easy. His father was a doctor but was also very active in the underground resistance and was imprisoned for the latter stages of the war. There was little food at the time and Peter told the story of once walking with his mother when he saw a loaf of bread fall off a baker’s lorry. Ignoring the traffic Peter darted on to the road and grabbed the bread and rushed home with his treasured loaf.

After school he completed his national service with the Dutch army and then came to Edinburgh University to study business. From that point onward, Scotland became his home. After gaining a Bachelor of Commerce degree, he applied to become an analyst with Ivory and Sime, then a leading Fund Manager in Edinburgh.

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The late Professor Tom Johnston, subsequently Principal of Heriot-Watt university, supplied the required reference. Silent on his student’s academic record, he stated, ‘Mr de Vink has a highly developed commercial instinct’.

Many in Scotland owe their career success to Peter de Vink’s influenceMany in Scotland owe their career success to Peter de Vink’s influence
Many in Scotland owe their career success to Peter de Vink’s influence

He first managed the Scotbits portfolio, then a substantial Unit Trust Company. Soon he displayed that forecasted commercial instinct, plus huge energy and a remarkable gift of getting to know the right people. He became a partner in 1969 and a director in 1975 on its incorporation.

In 1978 Peter left Ivory and Sime to set up ‘Edinburgh Financial and General Holdings’. It is difficult to define precisely what he and his company actually did, but Peter referred to himself as a ‘Financial Engineer’. What is clear is that he was an ideas man. These came fast and whilst most were creative and imaginative, a few were less so.

Often he acted with great success as a go-between when companies merged. Using his many contacts and armed with his mobile phone he would help businesses which needed a new director, manager, or merely a recruit; Peter knew and introduced the ideal person. Many in Scotland owe their career success to Peter’s influence.

He was an incredibly keen and excellent shot. He loved the countryside and in 1987 bought a farm in the Moorfoot Hills which he converted into a fine sporting estate.

Peter de Vink with the giant 'Yes' sign he painted on a hillside near his home in 2014Peter de Vink with the giant 'Yes' sign he painted on a hillside near his home in 2014
Peter de Vink with the giant 'Yes' sign he painted on a hillside near his home in 2014

He will be remembered well for his enthusiastic briefings prior to a day’s shoot, his impatient demands for a team photograph and the rendition in the gun bus of a variation of the Scaffold’s song Lily the Pink ‘the saviour of the shooting race’! At Huntly Cot he loved to entertain shooting parties and was an exceedingly generous host.

Peter was politically very active throughout his life and in 2012 was elected as an Independent councillor for Midlothian where he served for five years, often making his mark in a colourful manner – including painting a giant ‘Yes’ sign on land near his home directly under the Edinburgh Airport flightpath in the run-up to the 2014 independence referendum

In May 1967 he married Jean Murray-Lyon. They had two children, Natalie and Patrick, and he was a proud grandfather to Kirsty, Robbie, Jamie and Indiana and Domini. In 1994 he married Krista Quarles van Ufford, who died in 2007.

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His final years were plagued by myeloma. He fought this illness with great courage, continuing to manage shooting days at Huntly Cot between blood transfusions and even up until three months before his death. Mention has been made here of his energy and vision. To this can be added optimism. This was a factor in his business life, as it was in the courage he displayed in his last few months.

The writer visited Peter many times during that last illness but found the Dalkeith Community Hospital difficult to find.There were several roundabuts en route and it was difficult to remember which of many exits to take. In a way, roundabouts tell us something about Peter. On his own admission he had several times in his life taken the wrong exit at the crucial roundabouts which we all have to negotiate. But on 20 April, in the presence of many of his oldest friends, high in the Moorfoot hills overlooking his beloved Huntly Cot, his ashes were laid to rest

His countless friends will not forget the Dutchman who adopted Scotland as his home.

A memorial service will be held at Canongate Kirk, Edinburgh, on Friday, 19 May 19, 1pm.


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