Son’s tribute to father and former Deputy Lieutenant of West Sussex: ‘His mind was sharp to the end’

The son of a former Deputy Lieutenant of West Sussex who was well known in Arundel has paid tribute to him.

Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 2:14 pm
Updated Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 2:17 pm

John Knight, who was appointed a deputy lieutenant in 1999, sadly died on May 11, following a week in hospital. He was 93 years old.

His son, Gavin, 58, this week spoke of his father’s ‘long and very well-lived life’.

“He had a great sense of humour, his mind was sharp to the end,” he said.

John Knight, a former Deputy Lieutenant and High Sheriff of West Sussex

“For the last six years of his life he was on dialysis, but he did this at home and continued to travel, with no complaints.”

Mr Knight, who was also High Sheriff of West Sussex in 1996, was born in North London on April 12, 1928.

He went to Aldenham School and then did a year’s national service just after the war ended before going to Pembroke College, Cambridge, to read history.

He was happily married to Wendy in 1954 but sadly she died unexpectedly in 2007. They had three children, Mandy, Martyn and Gavin.

John Knight, a former Deputy Lieutenant and High Sheriff of West Sussex, with his wife, Wendy

The couple celebrated their golden wedding anniversary with a big party at Wepham House in 2004.

Mr Knight’s eight grandchildren who all called him ‘Gamps’ sang at the event. He also has one great-grandchild.

At Cambridge, Mr Knight ran a magazine and was introduced to art. Wendy bought a painting from British painter, Francis Bacon, and they later sold it to buy their first home in Wepham in around 1966.

Here, they embraced the country life with horses, dogs and chickens, Gavin said.

John Knight, a former Deputy Lieutenant and High Sheriff of West Sussex

Mr Knight also had a successful career in the city as a stockjobber, which allowed him to retire early.

When he retired, he set up a chain of wine bars and restaurants in the city with Jeremy Brodie called Brodies.

This led him to advising Chichester Festival Theatre on improving all catering activities and finances.

Gavin said: “Kate Mosse, the writer, was involved with the theatre at the time and she said dad and Michael Marshall, the late MP for Arundel, saved the theatre from going bankrupt.”

John Knight, a former Deputy Lieutenant and High Sheriff of West Sussex

Mr Knight was a big fan of cars and motorsports and would often go to Goodwood.

He and Wendy also loved to travel. In 1990, they drove from London to Peking in a Subaru raising £15,000 for West Sussex Association for the Disabled. He was involved with this charity over a long period.

Mr Knight loved cricket and was chairman of Arundel Castle Cricket Foundation for many years, which introduces cricket to disadvantaged children.

He was great friends with the late cricketer Colin Cowdrey and together, with others, they built an indoor cricket school which allowed the children’s activities to continue all year round.

He and Colin were also founders of Angmering Park Shoot.

Mr Knight celebrated his 93rd birthday with a pub lunch outside on April 12. It was the first time the family were together for a while due to Covid.

Gavin said: “He was in good form although he did say he had had enough of lockdown and that his grandchildren should be allowed to get on with their lives. Sadly this was his last party.”