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News > Alumni > Behind 'The Red Hand'

Behind 'The Red Hand'

Human rights lawyer by day and rugby journalist by night, meet Peter Lockhart, Class of 2008.
3 May 2023

When I spoke to Peter he was getting ready to interview rugby commentator Mark Robson for his podcast The Red Hand which offers rugby fans insight, opinion and just good old chat with some of Ulster Rugby’s biggest names.

Peter has been writing and blogging about rugby for the past five years.

“I was working in a commercial law firm and felt that I needed to do something, outside the day job, that was a bit more creative.

I started writing articles about rugby and put them up on Facebook and Twitter. They got a bit of traction and then a few of the Ulster players and ex-players, including Stephen Ferris and John Cooney, did some interviews with me and things took off from there.

I’ve interviewed around 100 Ulster players, past and present so far, including Harry Sheridan”. {Harry is a former Sullivan pupil and up and coming young player}

Peter set up The Red Hand website last year as somewhere central to host all his content. Fans can browse the archives for free or for a small charge can access exclusive content.

Peter also writes match reports and feature articles for the BBC as well as a few other media outlets, covering Munster, Leinster and Connacht games as well as Ulster matches.

“The journalism is a bit of a side-line but it’s a real passion.

I’d always been interested in writing and journalism but found myself on the path of a law degree at Queens. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after school so I applied for law on the basis that it was something that would give me options later on.”

However, Peter remained in the law, working briefly for a criminal defence firm after completing his degree, before taking a job with the Attorney General of Northern Ireland where he began human rights work.

His next move was to commercial law but he was drawn back to human rights work and took a job with The Law Centre which offers free, independent and specialist legal advice, casework and representation in the areas of social security, employment and immigration.

It was here that Peter began working with asylum seekers.

“I was involved in the resettlement of Syrian refugees and asylum seekers, helping them to get legal status to settle in Northern Ireland.”

In his current role which is funded by the Department of Justice, Peter works with victims of serious criminal offences, helping them to navigate the legal system and being their advocate.

I expect that ‘The Red Hand’ provides some light relief from a very intense day job.

“Yes” agrees Peter.

“This type of work, where you are working and advocating for people who have had very tough experiences, does put life into perspective”.

“Rugby and writing provides some light relief. I’ve been going to Ulster games since I was a boy, with my Dad. We are season ticket holders and it’s a great way to spend time with him.”

Rugby fan Peter being interviewed by another former SUS pupil, Mark Simpson

The weekly Red Hand podcast has become a real fixture in Peter’s week, but does he see it as a career path in future?

“It’s not a career path I’ll be going down anytime soon but I’ve learnt a lot since starting the website and writing for various publications. I’ve taught myself new skills around recording and editing, and even in terms of generating some income through advertising and sales which goes back into the podcast to keep improving and growing it.”

Peter has fond memories of his time at school. Brought up in Holywood, he was actually measured up for an Inst uniform before decided to follow his two older brothers into Sullivan.

“I’m very glad I did. I’m still in touch with a lot of my year group and most of my best friends are from school.”

English teach Rosemary Trainor made a real impression on the young Peter and might be credited with instilling an early love of writing. “She was so enthusiastic, really brought English to life for us.”

Unsurprisingly, Peter also cites former rugby players and school PE teachers Willie Anderson and Dan Soper as making their mark on him.  

“I was in awe of Willie. His rugby career was well before my time but I knew a few of the old stories. One of the best things about the podcast is that I get to speak to childhood heroes who I really admire and respect - I subsequently got to visit Willie at his home and interview him.”

Dan Soper, now an Assistant Coach at Ulster Rugby, taught PE and Geography while Peter was at Sullivan.

“As a New Zealander he was automatically exotic and the fact that he was good at rugby made him really cool.

I was a chubby wee kid in the Junior School, playing in the front row and he would always encourage me and talk about being in the ‘Front Row Club’. He made a real effort to make me feel included.

I loved my time at school, not necessarily based on the academic opportunities but mainly because of the friendships we made there”.

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