Award dedicated to memory of John Grue
A long-standing member of the Community Association, at one time as chairman, John Grue sadly died on 14 November 2021. In recognition of his commitment to our local community, the Best in Show award at the Broadbottom Autumn Show has been renamed The John Grue Award, from 2023, in his honour.
JOHN DAVID GRUE 19.08.1946 – 14.11.2021
John was born in Liverpool, the third child of six, having two brothers and three sisters. Memories of his childhood included his father’s war effort as a fire spotter stationed on the roof of the Anglican Cathedral. John would recount how several Carribean men attended his uncle’s funeral, much to the surprise of his family. They came to show their respect to him as he had been supportive to them, even on the occasions when they gained the attention of the local constabulary. No doubt they were customers of his father’s side line of running a betting shop… without the shop.
Educated in Liverpool, John left to attend University College London to study Botany. However, his interest in outdoor pursuits soon took him from London to the Loch Eil Centre near Fort William, Scotland, as a Mountain Leader, teaching would-be mountaineers.
It was here that he met Anne Robinson his future wife. Never behind the curve, John ensured that when being paired off on an excursion to climb Ben Nevis, he shared with Anne. The year was 1971.
One year later they were married and took up posts teaching in the North of England, John in Settle and Anne in Fleetwood. As careers developed, John moved first to the Abraham Moss Centre in Crumpsall, moving to Blackley, during which time Becky was born in 1976.
The family moved to Broadbottom, where Ian was born in 1978, and John took up a post teaching at Longdendale School, where he remained until retirement. Throughout his life, John insisted that he live within walking distance of where he worked. An eco-warrior before it became fashionable.
John had an infectious enthusiasm for knowledge and a strong desire to impart that knowledge to the children in his care, and anyone else he could corner at a party. His particular speciality was Pteridology, ferns, the cause of many a glazed expression in polite company. His knowledge was unhampered by his PHD Botany (failed) when he left UCL to be a Mountain Leader.
John’s enthusiasm for school and village life led to his involvement in many things.
At Longdendale he ran the Animal Unit, where the children could come for comfort, when petting the animals, or education. John never missing a chance to impart his wisdom. The unit had two donkeys who were prone to escaping. On one occasion the school were contacted by the local constabulary, who reported that the miscreants were nearby on Wooley Bridge, trying to make baby donkeys, and causing massive traffic jams. They were retrieved quickly by John. Even during school holidays, including Christmas Day, John would walk to the school to tend to the animals.
John was a walker, climber, caver, canoeist, skier and many more things. He skied down Moss Lane and Gibble Gabble. Both John and Anne were keen skiers. However, on one occasion, Anne badly injured her knee and John had to wait on her hand and foot whilst she recovered, with much sighing on his part, as he handed her yet another cup of tea.
Locally, John was a long-standing member of the Community Association, at one time as chairman. Amongst many things, John and Anne were involved when the Broadbottom Families Group started an annual visit to the Isthmus Centre in Keswick, which still occurs, including the now grown children of the original participants. Two of those children, Becky and Ian, of whom John was extremely proud, are now doctors.
Both Anne and John were members of the Broadbottom Amateur Dramatic Society, which produced shows in various forms for many years, as well as the Broadbottom Carnival and Broadbottom Show, where John stood as a judge in the competition entries.
In later life, as empty nesters, John and Anne travelled extensively together. John travelled to Africa with his friend Jeremy Lee, to attempt to climb Mt. Kenya, failing to peak. Jeremy tragically passed away young; a loss John was devastated by. Undeterred, John went trekking in Patagonia, where I can imagine he missed the spectacular views of the Andes whilst staring down at a fern. At one point, having taken shelter from the weather, he handed out chocolate to whomever passed him on the trail. When the weather eased, on reaching his destination, he was greeted as a hero and provided with hot food and a lot of thanks.
Both John and Annes life changed drastically on 21 September 2017, when John had an accident whilst riding his bike. John suffered serious brain damage. Bedridden for almost two years, John learned to communicate, albeit with some memory loss. With the determination of Anne and his devoted family and friends, and his own will to recover, John learned to walk again, showing a tenacity and strength, both mental and physical, which in truth did not surprise those who knew him. I had the opportunity, as did other friends, to spend time with John during this difficult period and remain in awe of his character.
John lost his battle on 14 November 2021, when he suffered a fatal stroke at home, days before a long-planned visit to the Arctic.
John is missed by all who knew him. Those that spent time in his company; family, friends, colleagues and former pupils will all hold a memory of John.