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Peter Cabrelli

Founding director of the National Theatre of Scotland

Founding director of the National Theatre of Scotland

Born: December 25, 1945; Died: March 11, 2014.

PETER Cabrelli, who has died aged 68, brought more than 25 years of international business experience to bear upon the arts in Scotland, becoming an influential figure on the board of some of the nation's most important cultural institutions.

As human resources director of HBoS he was heavily involved in the complex merger of the Bank of Scotland and the Halifax Building Society in 2001. Then, when he retired two years later, he turned his talents to the administration of the arts. At the time of his death he was a board member of both Creative Scotland and the National Theatre of Scotland.

He had a passion for the arts, particularly the theatre, and, as a founding director of the NTS, he was instrumental in helping its first chairman Richard Findlay lay the foundations for the company's success. His background in HR, coupled with a common sense approach, was invaluable when it came to making senior appointments.

Pragmatic and generous in spirit, he was most recently in charge of the NTS's remuneration committee, helping to establish a pension scheme for the company.

Mr Cabrelli's involvement with Creative Scotland, the body which was established after the merger between the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen, began in 2009 when he joined the board of the new organisation. Once again, his past experience as a leading human resources manager, his no-nonsense approach and his love of the arts made him the perfect choice for the task.

Mr Cabrelli was also a lifelong supporter of Dundee United and, until relatively recently, an associate director at Tannadice. His father was a professional football player who briefly played for the club.

Peter Primo Cabrelli was born in Dundee on Christmas Day, 1945, the oldest of four brothers. His parents, Peter snr. and Sundie, were both second generation Italians. Mr Cabrelli, in addition to his football career, was also a successful restaurateur.

Young Peter was educated at Lawside primary and secondary schools. He excelled academically and gained a place at St Andrews University's Dundee campus where he studied economics and political science. After graduating he moved south to continue his political studies at the London School of Economics.

Though he planned to return to Dundee to pursue a career in journalism, he decided instead to pursue a career in personnel management and joined Standard Telephone and Cables' graduate training scheme in 1971.

During this time he met another trainee on the course, Dianne Tucker. They fell in love and married a year later. In 1973 the young couple moved to Brussels where Mr Cabrelli took up a post in the HR department (though it was still known as "personnel department" in those days) of Standard's American-owned parent company ITT. They spent nine years in Belgium during which time Mrs Cabrelli gave birth to their two children Abby and Ben.

In 1982, the family moved back to the UK and settled in Worthing where Mr Cabrelli took up a senior HR position with the Excess Insurance Company, another division of ITT.

Then, in 1986, the Cabrellis were on the move again; this time to Hong Kong where Mr Cabrelli became HR director of Standard and Chartered Bank. They stayed there for three years before moving back once again to the UK.

Settling in Purley in Surrey, Mr Cabrelli took up directorships with several service subsidiaries of the Pearson Group.

In 2000 they moved to Edinburgh when Mr Cabrelli was appointed Group HR director at the Bank of Scotland. It was the first time he had worked in Scotland. Within a short space of time, however, he was closely involved in the bank's controversial merger with the Halifax.

Throughout his life, Peter Cabrelli had been a supporter of the arts. He loved music, was a great movie fan and he was a regular theatre-goer. Once he moved back to Scotland he started to play an increasingly active role in arts administration, first as a director of the National Theatre and then later as a board member of Creative Scotland.

He was also previously a non-executive Member of Court at the University of St Andrews and chairman of the trustees of the university's pension plan.

A lover of sport, he was for 10 years the Scottish chairman of Fields in Trust (formerly known as the National Playing Fields Association) and, of course, an associate director of his beloved Dundee United. His passion for football also led him to become the proud owner of no fewer than 150 Subbuteo teams, often playing the table game with his brothers and his son Ben.

In his retirement, Mr Cabrelli indulged in his love of the movies and, during the Edinburgh Film Festival each year, he would seldom see the daylight beyond the cinema.

He and his wife were also passionate travellers and kept a world map upon which they would stick pins in to indicate the places they had visited.

Mr Cabrelli, who died peacefully at home, is survived by his wife and his two children.

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