Charles Gordon Clark writes:
JOHN HOLROYD, who died of cancer on 29 November, aged 79, was a
remarkable example of the layman who, while holding down important
public positions, found time to serve the Church as well - indeed,
the wider Church; for this son of a Methodist minister never really
broke with his Nonconformist roots, while becoming a Reader at St
Albans and Gloucester Cathedrals, and a trusted figure throughout
the Church of England during his time as Secretary for Appointments
to the Prime Minister, and Ecclesiastical Secretary to the Lord
Chancellor, from 1993 to 1999.
His father was a Methodist minister; so John's childhood was
peripatetic, and largely in southern England, but he was always
conscious that both his parents came from Morley in the West
Riding, where their families had been in the woollen industries at
all levels for generations. Childhood visits to his grandparents,
aunts, and uncles were formative experiences of the need to live
for public service as well as private enjoyment.
He was educated at Kingswood School (of which he was a governor
for 20 years), and, after National Service as a subaltern with the
Wiltshire Regiment - part of it on active service in Cyprus - at
Worcester College, Oxford, as an open history scholar.
As he reminisced recently, such privileged education in the late
1950s led most of those who enjoyed it not to lucrative jobs but to
ones in public service; he joined the Ministry of Agriculture,
Fisheries, and Food, and so was involved in many of the
negotiations concerning Britain's joining the Common Market. Having
been chairman of Civil Service selection boards in the late 1970s,
he worked in the Cabinet Office from 1985; his memoirs of that
time, embargoed until the requisite period has elapsed, should
prove valuable records of the Thatcher and Major years, and
especially their European policies.
His Civil Service career was crowned by his appointments work.
After retiring, he did much useful work as adviser to the
Association of Lord-Lieutenants, and became himself a Deputy
Lieutenant, first for Hertfordshire, and then for
Both while living in St Albans, and after moving to Gloucester
in 2001, he and his wife did a great deal for the lives of the
cathedrals; he was a member successively of the two cathedrals'
trusts, and a governor of the King's School, Gloucester (chairman
of governors 2009-12). He also found time to be chairman of Wells
Cathedral Council for seven years.
But he was not only an able administrator and trusted adviser:
he was a fine musician, a singer and organist, and Oxford had
opened his eyes to art and architecture. He and Judith, whom he
married in 1963, made many visits to Italy, to classical sites
around the Mediterranean, and elsewhere.
His happy marriage produced two children, and four
grandchildren, who delighted his later years. He was a kind man, a
man who chuckled over life in an engaging way, and, as a retired
bishop said with great emphasis, a good man. He will be much