Obituary written by Merrick Fall (son in law) based on notes produced by the Paul:
Paul Griffin was born an only child at Chingford, Essex, in 1922. His father spent his life in a London bank, except for service in the Great War. Money was scarce, and Paul’s top Scholarship to Framlingham College was a relief to the family. When the Second World War broke out, Paul, as captain of the School, volunteered in a scheme for public schoolboys to go to India and join the Army there. He was accepted and was still 18 when he embarked for Bombay. Paul joined the 3rd /6th Gurkhas, based at Shagai Fort in the Khyber Pass; he became a Captain at 20 and learned Pushtu. His battalion spent time in Waziristan and was then selected for Wingate’s Chindits in the jungles of Burma, a highly dangerous posting. Bouts of malaria and dysentery, coupled with his obvious ability, led him to becoming a specialist Air Staff Officer and a Major while still under 23.
On his return to the UK, he married Felicity Dobson, the sister of a Framlingham friend, Patrick (later General Sir Patrick) Howard-Dobson, and went up to St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, to read English Literature. With money short, life was not easy. Their daughter, Angela, was born while he was still an undergraduate, and their second child, Jonathan, at Uppingham where Paul had been appointed to sort out the teaching of English. After six years, Paul took the post of Principal of the English School in Nicosia, Cyprus, a school founded in the belief that the Greek and Turkish communities could be brought together through education. He worked towards this end and showed great courage in walking the talk, making lasting friendships in all Cypriot communities. He was fully involved in local life and activities, including acting and reading the radio news during the Emergency under the pen-name Peter Lyon. He was awarded an MBE for his contribution to education.
When independence came, having lost staff, buildings and many pupils to terrorism, Paul returned to the UK, and was appointed Headmaster of Aldenham, where he spent 13 years. Through his dedication to teaching and to insisting on the highest standards, he inspired enormous loyalty and respect among those in his charge. These were times of great social change and youthful rebellion: a challenge for a man who had experienced the order and precision of the military life during wartime. He described himself in those days as a cautious progressive, for which in retrospect many of his former pupils will surely be grateful. Not unusually, he liked to walk the dog, but did he sometimes, as a rumour had it, almost prefer dogs to people?
A new phase began with seven pleasant years starting a language school in Cambridge, before retirement to Southwold, in Suffolk. He had been writing sporadically ever since India, and won many literary competitions, contributing regularly to “The Spectator” and other periodicals. In so doing he came across a group of writers with whom he wrote a series of humorous books, including How To Become Ridiculously Well-Read In One Evening. After that, he published a number of volumes of his own poetry. He was awarded £5,000 for providing the winning entry in the Literary Review’s National Poetry Competition with Love in an English Garden; and on three occasions, the last as recently as 2010, he won the Cambridge University Seatonian Prize for Religious Poetry.
Throughout his life his religious faith was deep and uncompromisingly orthodox, and was expressed in some of his most moving poems. He enjoyed preaching, first as Headmaster and then as a Reader of the Church of England, and leading services in various parishes in Suffolk. While at Aldenham, Paul had joined the Corporation of the Sons of the Clergy, of which he became Treasurer (Chairman). He also devoted himself to the work of St Mary’s, Huntingfield, in whose Rectory Felicity had grown up and where they were married.
To everything he did he brought a fierce intelligence; while loyal to a fault, he was always more at home as his own man than in the role of willing subordinate. In Southwold, many of the local Suffolk boys whose authenticity he relished will fondly remember him on the beach at night, with windbreak and tilly-lamp, casting his line for dabs.
Paul Griffin, teacher, churchman, poet, born 2 March 1922, died peacefully at home 29 January 2012, five weeks short of his 90th birthday. He leaves a wife, Felicity, and two children, Angela and Jonathan.