Clive Walton 1958-2022

Clive and Jean Walton at Suzuki Dealer Awards

Clive Walton 1958-2022

The death is announced of Clive Walton, former Owner/Director of John Groombridge Motorcycles, Cross in Hand, East Sussex, after a 6 year battle with cancer.

Clive’s interest in motorbikes started from aged 16 and since then he was never without one or more bikes.

His working career was for over 40 years involved in the motor trade both 2 and 4 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 and many of their customer from those early days came back when they took over the Groombridge business in 2006.

During their tenure of Groombridges, Clive drove forward remodelling and updating of the premises to what is now a key multi franchise dealer in the southeast. 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 affectionately known, had made such a success, ably supported by his partner Tracy and the team, most of whom now have many years of service.

Outside of business, Clive enjoyed playing squash and through squash at rural club Cottenden, he met his future wife Jean. They celebrated their marriage at Edinburgh castle and spent their honeymoon in France, cycling on a tandem and agreeing to buy a property, close to the Swiss border and Pontarlier. No sooner had they started updating the 1970’s style house in France, they moved house from Sussex to Kent near Bethersden. The property purchased required virtually a total rebuild. Much of the work being done by Clive and Jean. Once this house purchase was agreed, Clive invested in a tipper truck and digger, both of which gave sterling service over the next few years!

The house building project overlapped with the purchase of Groombridges and it was an amazing feat to be involved in both projects at the same time.

In September 2016, Clive was given a rectal cancer diagnosis which had already spread to his liver. Immediately he decided, with Jean’s support, that he was going to battle against this. Clive would then immerse himself in the internet to find ways to combat cancer through both the chemotherapy treatment prescribed but also through healthy eating and lifestyle and various supporting therapies.

Over the next 6 years, Clive would enjoy tennis with a small group of nearby friends where the post tennis conversations were as important as the games themselves, their games being played on private courts owned by two of the group. As well as tennis, he and Jean continued to cycle, play tennis, squash and golf as well as tend to land of more that 8 acres and visit France and their house there as often as possible; much of the time still very much involved with the Groombridge business as many suppliers will testify.

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

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

By late June this year, Clive’s cancer had spread further, now to his brain and this was deemed a terminal condition. He became weaker quite rapidly and spent his last few weeks in the Pilgrims Hospice in Ashford where he received excellent care. Till the end Clive would have a bright smile and was to be a favourite of all the nurses.