09:16 11 May 2022
09:43 11 May 2022
Malcolm Grove – father, husband, volunteer, community pioneer and co-founder of a free school – has died aged 76.
Malcolm was born on January 1, 1946 at Cottage Hospital in Salop, Shropshire. His father worked as an accountant in Hong Kong, so when he was three months old, he left on a boat with his mother to join her family.
For the first seven years of his life, Malcolm lived in Hong Kong, attending Peak School until he was sent to St Edward’s, the Oxford boarding school his father had attended. He enjoyed canoeing and rowing there and returned to Hong Kong to visit his family once a year.
Malcolm studied physics and chemistry at Christ Church College, Oxford.
“He had a very inquisitive mind. He could do a lot of things, as well as academic things. He was practical,” said Linda Grove, Malcolm’s wife of 51 years.
“We got married because our parents introduced us. My parents lived in Hong Kong and they were friends with his family. We always knew about his family, but I didn’t meet him until I was 20 because I kept avoiding her – like a fact when your parents want to introduce you to someone,” Linda said.
The couple married in Sussex in 1970 and bought a house in Lyndhurst Grove, Peckham, where they were ‘money poor but time rich’. With a group of neighbors, they began to build houses together and lived a community lifestyle.
“Malcolm would watch local builders on how to do all the different jobs, whether it was plumbing or plastering, and he did all the work himself,” she said.
In 1975 they had their first daughter together, Rachael, who was born at St Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in Southwark.
Malcolm got a job with Shell, which later allowed the family to travel around the world.
They had their second daughter, Jessica, in Gouda, Holland, where they lived for two years.
They sold their Peckham home and bought a cottage at Benham’s Place in Hampstead, which they rented out while living abroad.
Malcolm’s work brought the family to São Paulo in Brazil, where they remained for four years.
“We lived in a beautiful suburb in a house, with a pool, where other foreigners lived. Most weekends we drove to the beach through the jungle and over rickety bridges. I loved the Brazil. I liked the people,” Linda said.
After returning to England for a bit, they then traveled to Seoul, South Korea, when Malcolm was managing director of Shell. They stayed home for six years, then lived in compounds with other expats in Shanghai and Nanjing in China, where Malcolm was general manager of a polypropylene production plant.
At 54, Malcolm retired and the couple moved back to north London, selling their home in Hampstead and buying property – a ‘beautiful house with a garden’ – in Belsize Lane where they have been for 30 years.
Malcolm was instrumental in setting up Abacus Belsize Primary School, which is currently based in King’s Cross but is to find a permanent home at Haverstock School.
There was no school in Belsize Park, so together with other community members they set up Abacus as a free school. After struggling to find a home for the school for five years, the temporary site was found and the couple retired to let others manage it.
Malcolm and Linda were involved in the community, doing voluntary gardening outside the Royal Free Hospital.
Malcolm fell ill three and a half years ago when he suddenly suffered from back pain. Doctors told him he needed an aortic dissection to be saved and he underwent 14 hours of heart surgery.
Malcolm survived but later contracted dementia.
“I’ve looked after him for three and a half years. He could barely walk at the end. But his courage was tremendous,” Linda said.
She praised the “excellent” palliative care team in Camden and its community who visited Malcolm once a week and walked with him.
On Tuesday, May 3, Malcolm passed away.
“People in the community were once again absolutely wonderful in helping me organize the memorial service. We source everything locally. Budgens, our local supermarket, takes care of the food,” Linda said.
“You put something in the community and something comes back. You don’t do it for that reason, but that’s how it works.”
A memorial service and celebration of Malcolm’s life will be held at 11.30am on Wednesday 18 May at St Peter’s Church, Belsize Square, followed by a reception in the church gardens. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. A video link will be available for those unable to attend. Dress code – come as you wish – and no flowers as donations are being collected for a new park bench: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/malcolmgrovebenches
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