Royce Gardener M.B.E., one of the great characters of Newport died a few days before Christmas. I took this picture of him in 2009. He is toasting Mrs. Violet Lawrence on her 99th birthday. Royce’s life was a triumph and inspiration for all pensioners. He was proud that he was a policeman for thirty years and he has been retired for 36 years. That’s bad news for the pension fund but very satisfying for Royce.
For many of those years he led the splendid pensioners' association in Caerleon and the Police Pensioners Association. He was a great campaigner. Very recently he has been in touch about the closure of the HSBC bank branch in Caerleon.
He was giant of a man with a vast personality that charmed and dominated. A great humorist he had compiled a history of the constabularies of Gwent – complete with fascinating anecdotes about the fragilities and foibles of serving officers.
The Caerleon Pensioners Group has a very successful record of word and activity. Last year he presented a film of a concert the group had put on 20 years ago. He was born in Abertillery in 1924 and worked in the pits. As a miner he was in a reserved occupation and could not be called up to serve in the Second World War. He did however became a stalwart of the Home Guard. Later he resented the way that Dad’s Army belittled the value of their work.
He was still working at Six Bells when he married Marian Morgan. Shortly afterwards he joined the police for his 30 year stint. They had two daughters Vanessa and Gay. He was proud of the highpoint of his police acting as a bodyguard to Princess Margaret in 1969 when he was serving in the regional crime squad. His most painful memories were helping the rescue attempts in Aberfan. His final five years in the police were served as the Gwent Crime Prevention Officer. He set up his own driving school when he retired in 1976. It was a very successful business.
He packed in a second lifetime of work after that. He ran the Caerleon Chamber of Trade with Marion’s help, earned himself an M.B.E. in 2004 for the prodigious amount of Charity Work that he cheerfully took on. His final years saw him enjoy great respect and affection.
Royce was a great friend and companion. He will be greatly missed by the thousands who knew him well. He is genuinely irreplacable. His full varied marvellous life of service will be gratefully celebrated.
Thanks to Monty Dart and Will Cross for supplying the details of Royce’s life.