John David Blumsom (1946-1951)

Died on 19th November 2019, aged 86

John was born in December 1932, to Tom and Joan Blumsom. Their home was in a quiet road in Purley and he was joined, in due course, by his two sisters, Sheila and Jennifer. Tom worked for his father in the family business and they all enjoyed a happy and peaceful life with holidays on the south coast. In fact, that is where they were when war was declared.

It was then that his parents decided to send John to Northcliffe House in Bognor Regis. However, the school was very soon relocated to Cornwall, since the south coast was not the place to be in those days. After about three years, the school did return to Bognor and it was at this time that John took part in a BBC radio concert, singing a solo in the Brighton Pavilion.

Following in his father’s footsteps (Tom had been at Charterhouse Square), John went to Merchant Taylors’ at Sandy Lodge as a boarder in The Manor of the Rose in 1946. During his time there, he proved to be a good all-rounder - in class and in all his sports activities. He played fives and squash, cricket and rugby, the latter in the first XV.

This was followed by doing National Service in the Queen’s Royal Regiment (the West Surreys) and the Royal West Africa Frontier Force, serving in Nigeria and Germany. On leaving the Army, he transferred to the Territorial Army with the Queen’s Royal Regiment TA, whose drill hall was in Bermondsey. Later, when John and Jill moved to Bedfordshire, he transferred to the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment TA. Before he retired from this, he was fortunate enough to receive his TD from the Queen Mother, their Colonel in Chief.

While he had been away, John’s parents had moved the family home to Little Chalfont, from where he immediately enrolled as an articled clerk with a firm of Chartered Accountants in the City. He embarked on five years’ study alongside his full-time job there.

It was about this time that he met Jill Paul, who lived a few doors down the road in Chalfont. They were married in 1957, in the middle of his training, and set up home in a tiny flat in Sudbury Hill, whence they both commuted to London. John qualified at the end of 1958 and the following year they bought their first house in Barton-le-Clay in Bedfordshire, where Giles, David, William, and Alix were born. Then the family moved to Berkhamsted where, almost immediately, Lizzie arrived to keep Alix company with their three big brothers. This was where they all grew up.

The reason for the move was that John, after qualification, had taken a job with Electrolux in Luton. He then went on to Hambros Bank in London in 1971 where he remained until his retirement in 1992. Not ready to give up at the ripe young age of 60, he went on to work for Fairbridge, a charity helping disadvantaged children and now part of the Prince’s Trust, until he was 71.

All the while, the family grew up and flourished. They had the most amazing holidays each summer to some far-flung part of this country. Sometimes they rented a cottage, but more often they piled the seven people, the camping gear, walking boots and food galore into the Ford Zephyr, otherwise known as ‘The Tank’. How the car made it is still a mystery!

His family meant everything to John. He was always supportive of the children’s endeavours and provided wise and thoughtful counsel to them without obviously telling them what to do. He had the knack for quietly guiding them away from bad ideas, which usually worked. When the children grew up, they all came home with wives and husbands, and then their own children, all of whom Jill and John welcomed with open arms. There was always such a lot of fun and laughter and the family grew up very much enjoying John’s wonderful dry sense of humour. He was much loved by his grandchildren who all have wonderful memories of time spent in his company.

John continued his military connections by serving on the Hertfordshire committee of the Army Benevolent Fund for over twenty years, the last eighteen of them as Chairman. For his tireless work with the ABF, he was awarded an OBE by Her Majesty the Queen in 2003.

When John retired completely in 2004, he and Jill were able to travel the world, visiting three of the children who lived abroad at that time, and also went on some interesting and enjoyable cruises. However, Parkinson’s had caught up with him and eventually started taking its toll. It led to some great frustration over time, but he never once complained. He was determined to fight on and keep all his activities going as long as possible. He was an intensely principled and loyal family man. He strongly believed in providing a helping hand to others less fortunate than himself and his strong dedication to work and earning a good living set an example to all the family.

But the longest, enduring thread was his continuing connection and support of the Old Merchant Taylors’ Society. When he had finished his National Service, he joined immediately and for years played in the Rugby First XV. He also played squash and cricket for some time, not forgetting his golf involvement. There was a period when family commitments seemed to take up a great deal of time, but he and Jill supported the Society as much as possible. John’s proudest time was when he was elected as President for a year, which he thoroughly enjoyed. His great sadness was that his father never knew about it. He and Jill continued to support as many social activities as they could until, sadly, it was no longer possible.

Giles Blumsom


Return to Obituaries