Tributes paid to decorated war hero and community stalwart Brigadier Adam Gurdon
PUBLISHED: 07:30 06 June 2019
A man who travelled the world fighting for his country before becoming a community stalwart in a Suffolk town has died, leaving behind a "kind and caring" legacy to all that knew him.
Brigadier Adam Gurdon died at the age of 88 in May this year, leaving behind four daughters, 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
He had spent most of his life fighting for his country as a member of The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland, receiving a range of honours for his bravery as well as a CBE.
But, it was his role as a member of The Black Watch at a friend's wedding which led him to the most important meeting of his life.
While acting as a part of The Black Watch guard of honour at a friend's wedding, Brig Gurdon met his wife, Gillian, who was there to see her sister be married.
After six months, the couple tied the knot, starting a marriage which spanned more than six decades.
"I was drawn to Adam because he was just so different," said Mrs Gurdon. I had just come back from South America and Adam stood out. He was so different to all the men I had met before.
"He was jolly handsome for a start and I was into Black Watch officers, having had a Black Watch father and I really enjoyed their lifestyle, the dancing and the parties. I just thought he was marvellous really.
"I think he probably was quite smitten with me. When I went to Berlin to visit my sister I would notice Adam standing and staring at me which I thought was rather sweet. When he did eventually speak to me I thought he was jolly nice."
The couple travelled around the world together for Brig Gurdon's work which took them to cities across both Asia and Africa.
No matter where they travelled to, Brig Gurdon was always keen to support his colleagues in the Black Watch.
"He loved the lifestyle," said Mrs Gurdon.
"Both our fathers were members of The Black Watch so it was part of our lives.
"I was never very worried about him being hurt while fighting. Funnily enough it was never a serious thought. He loved to fight.
"I was far more worried about him getting knocked over by a bus when he went to London."
Brig Gurdon's fighting pedigree was passed down through the generations and it came as no surprise to the family when grandson Second Lieutenant Alexander Barclay - known to his family as Beattie - received a Military Cross after he helped three comrades escape a Taliban ambush, despite being shot in the leg himself in Afghanistan.
"We have always been quite a military family, but Beattie is our only grandson who went into the army," Mrs Gurdon added.
"When Adam heard about him winning the Military Cross Adam was bursting with pride. He was terribly proud."
When he retired from the army, Brig Gurdon turned his passion for the military into a passion for his community, taking on several important roles in Suffolk, where he lived with his wife until his death.
He became the warden at Burgh Church, a role he held for 27 years.
"He did so much in our community," said Mrs Gurdon.
"He did a lot for a lot of people. He was a jolly good egg.
"I think the community have already missed him.
"He has been so frail for a few years and I think people have already missed his presence.
"When we went out to great big lunch parties, everyone wanted to sit next to him.
"He always had great, long stories. He was an 'I remember' man, which was fascinating for the young ones.
"He was a very popular man, a very good man.
"He had an enormous family. All of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren adored him, worshipped him really.
"I think for other people, his lasting legacy would be that he was really kind and caring, a very nice man."
One special member of the family is also mourning the loss of Brig Gurdon.
Musical theatre giant Andrew Lloyd-Webber married Brig Gurdon's daughter Madeleine in 1991 and his friendship with her father has grown ever since.
Mrs Gurdon said: "Andrew couldn't have known him better. He absolutely adored him, just adored him. They were very good together.
"Andrew is terribly upset. He is broken hearted, we all are. There is a gap which is now very empty."