A few weeks ago, as part of my continuing research of the war years, I came across the fascinating story of Henry Garnett who was born in 1913, the year after his grandfather the late and much loved Rector of Christleton, Canon Rev’d Lionel Garnett had died, and who inherited the family seat of Wyreside Hall, Dolphinsholme near Lancaster, after the death of his father Claude and his Uncle Lawrence in WWI.
Henry was educated at Eaton and Sandhurst, and commissioned in the Royal Horseguards. After five years service and a short spell in the city, he served with distinction in the Second World becoming the leader of the Household Cavalry Armoured Car Troop responsible for the safety and immediate protection of the Royal Family. He then served as ADC to Generals Harding & O’Connor, and became Commander of the Army Group Leave Centre in Brussels.
After the war he joined Gillette Industries, the razor blade company, and worked in both Australia and America before becoming Chairman of the company in both the U.K. and Europe. In 1978 on retirement he became Chief Executive of the National Society for Cancer Relief and was instrumental in setting up the Macmillan Nursing Service. He devoted fourteen years of his life to this organisation, keeping it financially sound in difficult times. Newspaper reports suggest that Henry was tall and glamorous, always immaculately dressed, a distinguished man about town, and it seems he married three times.
The National Society for Cancer Relief was founded by Dorothy Macmillan in 1911, and its active service to people in the heart of a community as Macmillan Nurses, continues apace today. Henry was recruited by the Duchess of Roxburgh in 1972 and during his tenure as manager, deputy chairman and chief executive, transformed its role and performance. Inspired by the early pioneers of the hospice movement, Henry also set up a number of hospices and day centres throughout the country, with the initial cost being met by the Cancer Charity, but on the condition that financial responsibility would be adopted by the relevant local authority.
He was rightly awarded the CBE for his service to the country, following the wonderful example given by both his grandfather, Rector of our village for 43years, and both his father Claude and Uncle Lawrence who died on the battlefields at Amara in Iraq, and at Brandhoek near Ypres respectively. The devotion to service of this family went back even further as his great grandfather also Henry Garnett JP DL, had been High Sherriff of Lancashire and Chairman of Lancashire Quarter Sessions.
Henry Claude Lyon Garnett was also Patron of St James’ Church, an ancient role in the Church of England, but the Garnett Patronage of our church seems to have ended after his death, and all Rectors since that time; Archdeacon Rev’d David Garnett, Canon Rev’d K Peter Lee and Rev’d Malcolm Cowan, have been invited to become incumbent by the current Patron, The Bishop of Chester in consultation with the Church Wardens and representatives from the PCC.