Man who served the community dies

A MAN whose family say never saw an obstacle in achieving what he considered to be worthwhile has died. But with John Gillham s serious purpose was a great sense of perspective and fun. He was born in 1918 and moved to Letchworth GC in 1952, soon becoming

A MAN whose family say never saw an obstacle in achieving what he considered to be worthwhile has died.

But with John Gillham's serious purpose was a great sense of perspective and fun.

He was born in 1918 and moved to Letchworth GC in 1952, soon becoming involved in the local and wider community.

Mr Gillham was a keen follower of cricket and was chairman of Letchworth Cricket Club for 10 years and president for 25.


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He also became chairman of the appeal for the Ernest Gardiner Day Hospital in Letchworth GC in the Eighties where he raised enough money to build this much enjoyed facility.

As a young man, Mr Gillham joined Bovis Construction in 1937 as a management trainee.

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When war broke out in 1939 he joined the 32nd Field Regiment and spent some years fighting in the north African desert under the command of General Montgomery, notably at the battle of El Alamein.

He was awarded the Military Cross for his bravery under enemy fire in May 1943. The recommendation read: "Throughout the whole campaign, this officer has shown outstanding courage and devotion to duty."

He became a major but after attending the Nuremberg trials in 1946 as a military observer he decided to return to civilian life and help rebuild Britain.

Bovis Construction took him back and he quickly rose through the management hierarchy. At 36 he was the youngest member of the board of directors and was responsible for a number of award-winning projects including the post-war rebuilding of Coventry and the building of Britain's first new town at Stevenage.

He and his wife Sheila produced eight children. She was a fervent Catholic and in 1962 he converted to Catholicism and for the next 20 years became heavily involved in local Catholic schools. He was chairman of governors at both St Francis College in Letchworth GC and St Edmund's College in Ware.

He funded the education of several deserving pupils at Christ's Hospital, Horsham, where he himself was a pupil.

Sadly, Sheila died in 1971. Six years later, John married Rosemary Moylett and they celebrated their 32nd wedding anniversary shortly before he died.

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