About Peter Ucko

Peter UckoI have enjoyed a wonderfully happy, productive and successful life.

My friends tell me that I have done “soooooooo much”. I know that I can, and will, do much more.

I have been ‘accused’ of having excessive energy, of being too passionate and of loving too much. I have no idea where ‘too much‘ energy, passion and love begins. If I stand accused, I plead GUILTY.

In the beginning

I was born in Krugersdorp South Africa, completed primary school in Florida (South Africa), won first prize for English at Junior school in Durban and completed my high schooling in Durban. I played rugby and cricket, competed as a springboard and high-board diver, a gymnast, a trampolinist and a rifle marksman. I was conscripted into the Army which was a disruption in my life but a period of which I made the most.

The early years

After I completed my military service I worked in a factory in the packaging industry. Hessian, Jute, cotton, woven polypropelene and other bags for fertiliser, fruit, vegetables, nuts & bolts and other goods. I was instrumental in setting up a new plastic extrusion plant to manufacture and print all types of tubes and bags. I got married, had 3 children, travelled a lot and lead a wonderfully happy and productive life.

I obtained a Pilot’s Licence. My next job was in road construction contracting followed by a partnership in an electronic equipment manufacturing company. 

I studied production engineering, law, teaching English and much more. I qualified with an Open Water 1 SCUBA diving rating. I worked as an actor and broadcaster.

Please look at my Executive Resume for more details >  

The Mayoral, acting and broadcasting years

As as teenager and later as a young man I was always involved with sports clubs, charities, service organisations, school committees and volunteer organisations. Inevitably I would be elected as the Chairman. There was never another nominee and never a vote. I never needed to win an election. After many years I decided to give myself a break from all the extra-mural activity but found myself wondering what I would do with my time. I saw a photograph of the then Lady Mayor of Edenvale in the local newspaper. Edenvale was later renamed as Lethabong and is today a part of the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Council.  “AaaaaaHa” I thought. “There’s a way to do battle, win an election and to continue serving the community”. I walked the streets, knocked on doors and won handsomely as an Independent. I served as a Councillor for 24 years, 8 terms in Mayoral office and 5 years on the Executive Committee. We held several Mayoral Debutantes Balls. The first was the ‘Bluebirds of Happiness Ball’ in 1980. Former Miss World, Penny Coelen, in a fabulous blue evening gown was the Guest of Honour to whom the debutantes were presented. Those young ladies were fantastic. They did amazing work and raised loads of money for charity.

From my teen years I was acting in plays. I later freelanced as a broadcaster concentrating mainly on sports.

See my Actor and Voice artist resume >

The Tobacco Control years

The idea of smoking in public places was repugnant to me. That’s why I drove the resolution to ban smoking in all municipal building through the Edenvale Town Council (later name Lethabong). Before the harms caused by smoking were well known in South Africa, before we had some health warnings on cigarette packs and long before any legislation, it seemed crazy to me that we, as a Council, wanted young mothers to bring their infant children to our clinics for a check-up, weighing and vaccinations, where other mothers and sometimes nurses, were smoking.

I did not like dining in a restaurant where people were smoking. After Johannesburg and other cities began regulating smoking in places like restaurants, I would often find people smoking at tables adjacent to where I was sitting. Often directly under a No Smoking sign. I would ask them politely to stop. Several times. Sometimes they refused despite my politeness and despite the sign. I would then blow a whistle, loudly. That stopped the smoking and I was surprised at the support which other diners verbalised. I developed a reputation as an activist and advocate. That led to my appointment in 2001 as a Director of the National Council Against Smoking. In that capacity I was intimately involved in the legislative process, promulgation of laws, publication of regulations, promoting health and smoking cessation.

I continue with that work today. I was appointed to the Board of the Central Drug Authority in 2013. I serve on the Executive Committee and as Chair of the Marketing and Communications Committee. With a few like-minded colleagues, we established a Non Government and Non Profit Organisation. I serve as a director with 7 other Board members. The organisation is registered as  TAG Tobacco, Alcohol and Gambling Advisory, Advocacy and Action Group.  

More information about Tobacco Control >

The now years

I like to live in the “Now”. I firmly believe that there is no time like the present. Do it now! So for me, this is the best part of my life to write about. I will however not spend much time writing about it. I will spend more time LIVING life.

I am actively involved in Writing and Editing. I continue to work in tobacco control but have expanded that to include alcohol and gambling. The 3 legal addictions. I perform as an actor whenever I am cast in a role.

I am a member of the South African Freelancers Association, the South African Guild of Actors and several other organisations.

Please see other sections of this website and my resume for further information.