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John Grimwood M.B.E. (1930 -2011)

John, a familiar face to many from the town band, moved to Petworth from Tisman’s Common with his mum and brother Allan, at the age of 12. His father, a keeper, was away serving in South Africa.

On leaving school at fourteen, John was apprenticed to Jack Summersell, into a lifelong career as a plumber. After completing his apprenticeship, John was called up for National Service two months after his marriage to Audrey in 1951 and travelled by train to Chichester barracks. The two years spent in the Royal Sussex regiment  left a lasting impression with John and he remained a proud member of the Regimental Association. John was appointed bugler on arrival at Chichester Barracks and was sent to the Corps of Drums of the East Kent Regiment in Canterbury to learn the calls. During this time the King died and bugle practice was suspended! Back at Chichester he was required to travel widely over the South of England to sound many calls including the starting fanfares at Goodwood Racecourse.

When John completed his National Service in 1953 he returned home to commence family life with his wife and infant son, David. His life was dominated by his work, his garden, and the band, which he had originally joined in 1946.

Petworth Town Band was a huge part of John’s life. He was a member for nearly 63 years, being principal cornet player for most of that time, rarely missing a rehearsal or engagement and teaching many youngsters. He was secretary for many years and worked tirelessly for the band, creating an additional fundraising committee. His efforts were eventually rewarded by raising enough money to provide the superb set of brass instruments and uniforms still used today. Remembrance Sunday had always been a date of importance to John, and most years he has been asked to sound the Last Post at about six locations at local services as well as funerals during the year. It must be a record that John sounded the call for 55 consecutive years at Petworth Remembrance Day service from 1952 until 2007 and for 54 years at Fittleworth.

In retirement, John’s caring nature has shone through and he devoted nearly two decades to community work, driving the village minibus and delivering meals-on-wheels, until his health forced him to stop.  

It was fitting that John’s remarkable service to the band and the community of West Sussex was recognised by being awarded the MBE in 2003.

His energy, wit, intelligence and kindness are sure to have touched the lives of all who knew him. He was a true Sussex gentleman.

Everything a friendly enthusiastic town band ought to be. Established in the middle of the 19th century and still going strong