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Clive Walton

1958-2022

Clive Walton, the former owner of John Groombridge Motorcycles, Cross-in-Hand, East Sussex, died on 1 September following a six-year battle with cancer. He was 64.

Clive’s interest in motorcycles started at the age of 16 and after that he was never without one or more bikes. His working career spanned more than 40 years in the motor trade covering both two and four wheels, with almost all his ventures in conjunction with his brother Keith. From 1979 until 1988, when they moved into cars, Keith and Clive had a motorcycle business in Hailsham Road, Heathfield. Many of their customers from those early days returned when they took over the Groombridge business in 2006.

During their tenure at Groombridge, Clive was responsible for remodelling and updating the business, now a key multi-franchise dealership in the South East.

In 2020, Keith and Clive opted to retire and the business was sold to long-term employee Keith O’Regan who has continued to successfully run the business through extremely difficult economic times. Clive was delighted that Keith O, as he is affectionately known, has since made such a success of the business, ably supported by his partner Tracy and the team, most of whom have many years of service.

Outside of business, Clive enjoyed playing squash and through that he met his future wife, Jean. They celebrated their marriage at Edinburgh Castle and spent their honeymoon cycling on a tandem in France where they decided to buy a property close to the Swiss border at Pontellier. Soon after they had started updating the 1970s style house in France they also moved house from Sussex to Kent, near Bethesdan. The property purchased required virtually a total rebuild, much of the work being done by Clive and Jean. The house building project overlapped with the purchase of the Groombridge business, so it was a considerable feat to be involved in two major projects at the same time.

In September 2016 Clive was diagnosed with rectal cancer which had already spread to his liver. Immediately he decided, with Jean’s support, that he was going to fight it, immersing himself in the internet to find ways to combat cancer through the chemotherapy treatment prescribed, but also through healthy eating and lifestyle and various supporting therapies.

Over the next six years, Clive would enjoy playing tennis with a small group of friends, as well as continuing to cycle, play squash and golf with Jean. They also visited France and their house there as often as possible, although much of Clive’s time was spent with the Groombridge business, as many suppliers will testify.

Throughout his time with cancer, Clive went through a series of operations and treatments, and he was subject to some unfortunate mistakes, leaving him with more challenges to face, which he continued to bravely do. Not only did Clive fight his cancer, but he inspired a number of other sufferers and also those whose diet and lifestyle were likely to endanger their health. After a single conversation with Clive, a relative wrote to him saying how as a result of this, he was now heathier, fitter and happier.

After passing on the business to retire, a few pet projects were progressed; a 1971 Citroen D Super 5, acquired in 2003, was mechanically overhauled and brought back to life. The 50-year-old vehicle had a remarkable provenance and remains in pristine condition. A number of 1980s Honda motorcycles were in progress together with a Citroen SM (Maserati) when Clive died.

By late June this year, Clive’s cancer had spread to his brain and this was deemed a terminal condition. He became weaker quite rapidly and spent his last few weeks at the Pilgrims Hospice in Ashford where he received excellent care. Right up to the end Clive would have a bright smile and was a favourite with all the nurses.
Keith O’ Regan, Groombridge Motorcycles

 

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