A lawyer who helped thousands of vulnerable people in Dundee is to retire after 26 years of charity work.
Peter Kinghorn helped found the Dundee North Law Centre in 1994 and went on to devote his life to helping people with everything from benefit problems to rent arrears and evictions.
The 71-year-old from Brechin grew the centre from a branch of the Dundee Legal Advice Association to a charity in its own right, working from 12 locations across the city.
He is due to step down from his role as principal solicitor at the end of August, almost 26 years to the day after he joined the association.
Peter said: “I spent 20 years working in private law as a Jack of all trades but I felt I wanted to move into something where I would be working with people who needed representation they weren’t receiving.
“We started with a blank sheet of paper – no clients – and seeing how the law centre would work.
“It became apparent there was a big need for support with eviction cases for rent arrears. We discovered they weren’t being represented so we started to develop quite rapidly into representing them in court, which was quite new at the time.”
The centre evolved into providing legal aid for extra funding and Peter said although much has changed in the city, many problems remain the same.
He said: “We are entirely non-profit and became a charity in our own right.
“Client numbers increased and clients began to know where we would be on each day of the week.
“Nobody was ever turned away. I always made a policy that anybody who needed help would be seen.
“When we live in an economy where wages are generally low, zero hour contracts and agency working, this can play havoc with people’s finances.
“We have had to deal with lots of changes but in the main, some of the original problems still remain.
“Without volunteers on our management board, then and now, we couldn’t have functioned, so I want to say a huge thank you to them.”
Despite dealing with some harrowing cases, Peter called his role an “enormous privilege” and one he will miss.
“We did see very sad cases with people facing difficult times with health problems and things and we always tried to do our best for them and get them into a good place in their lives.
“As a lawyer you do develop a thick skin but I’m a human being too so sometimes I would get angry or upset about the circumstances some clients faced.
“I just try to use my skills to help them without getting personally involved.
“I found it an enormous privilege to do the job and I will miss it a lot.
“What I will miss most is the clients because I met some amazing people dealing with difficult circumstances with great courage.
“I could never in my wildest dreams imagined doing it for 26 years but I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.”
Peter will be succeeded in his principal solicitor role by Joyce Horsman.
Joyce will join the Dundee North Law Centre at the end of this month, moving from Fife Law Centre.
Joyce qualified as a solicitor in 2003 and has worked at the Scottish Government, Shelter Scotland and the Scottish Court and Tribunal Service as well as in private practice.
A keen musician in her spare time, she is also trained in counselling, mentoring and coaching.
Marjory Stewart, newly-appointed chairwoman of the centre, welcomed Joyce and wished Peter well.
She said: “The board of Dundee North Law Centre would like to express their gratitude to Peter for his long and loyal service to the project.
“We would also like to wish him all the best for his retirement.”
During retirement Peter hopes to spend more time with his wife, Carol, two children and four grandchildren, as well as continuing to help at the Redwings Mountains animal sanctuary where he works as the self-proclaimed “donkey man”.