J B Griffiths 1932 – 2018

John Griffiths of Pound Hill, Great Brickhill, Buckinghamshire was a pupil at The Crypt Grammar School from 1943-48 and studied for his qualifications in Chemistry before taking up National Service in 1957.

His entire working career was spent at Unilever where he spent time in Nairobi before ending his carrer as a director of a large Unilever subsidiary.

Peter Hobbs remembers him thus:

JOHN GRIFFITHS   1932 – 2018  (1943 – 48)

I knew nothing of John Griffiths at school other than that he had been a member of the tribe of Griffiths who contributed substantially to school activities but a generation before me. I first met him on the platform of the old Gloucester station where we were both entraining to begin National Service in the army in the Autumn of 1957. We were both destined for Aldershot and the same barracks – Buller Barracks named after a general unsuccessful militarily in the Boer War but an administrative genius in ensuring his troops were properly fed, dressed, housed and armed; something practiced by Marlborough and Wellington but rather neglected otherwise nationally including then.

John had left the Crypt some nine years previously, was married and studied for his qualifications in Chemistry. Having graduated, military service was mandatory as it was for me as a condition of my Oxford Scholarship. I was single, inexperienced (the furthest North I had been was to Worcester for the Three Choirs Festival but I had cycled around the South coast and been to London on Pryce-Jones’ opera trips. Travel was bit more limited in those days!) and generally pretty useless practically in the real world.

The army did not particularly like National Service men –  no women –  because they got in the way of doing real military activities, did not want to be there anyway but had to be trained and occupied. Initial training was pretty robust and I was fortunate to have John present in the same unit to advise and protect me. We both graduated as Second Lieutenants, he as a sub officer of our contingent and me as part of the rest and I am sure that I would not necessarily have survived without his help and friendship. I went then to the Middle East and he to the North of England where as a married officer, his pay was such that he had to take a cut when he joined Unilever in 1959.

John spent all his working career in Unilever including a long stint in manufacturing in Nairobi before ending his career as Director of a large Unilever subsidiary in the UK.

In retirement , he devoted himself to bell ringing at St Mary’s Church at Great Brickhill in Buckinghamshire where he lived, and the pursuit of golf at which he was very good. I had the benefit of lunches with him at the Captain’s Table at his golf club where he was clearly revered although as a non-golfer, I might well have missed some of the subtleties!

He died of Alzheimers in October 2018 leaving his widow  Jean and a son and daughter.

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