Obituary: St Albans’ “Singing Eggman” John Clifford

PUBLISHED: 10:00 22 November 2017

A cutting from the Herts Advertiser about John Clifford.

A cutting from the Herts Advertiser about John Clifford.

Archant

St Albans’ “singing eggman” and Arctic convoys veteran John Clifford has died aged 97.

Pam and John Clifford joined other war veterans at Buckingham Palace. The couple are pictured meeting The Princess Royal. Photo supplied.Pam and John Clifford joined other war veterans at Buckingham Palace. The couple are pictured meeting The Princess Royal. Photo supplied.

Having worked as a professional singer for 20 years, it was no surprise John Clifford didn’t stop performing.

After retiring from show business, Mr Clifford set up a delivery company in St Albans, and along with his brothers, he delivered eggs and potatoes door-to-door to hundreds of homes in Hertfordshire - always with a song in his heart.

John Clifford was born in 1920 in a North Lanarkshire village called Harthill, the son of a semi-professional singer for a mother. The second of 10 children, he was brought up in Kilbirnie in Ayrshire.

During the Second World War, he joined the Merchant Navy aged 19, and served on the notoriously dangerous Arctic convoys to Russia during the Nazi invasion.

John Clifford with the veterans medal he received at Mansion House. Photo: DANNY LOO.John Clifford with the veterans medal he received at Mansion House. Photo: DANNY LOO.

During these missions, 85 merchant ships and 16 Royal Navy vessels were destroyed.

In July 2013, he was awarded the Arctic Star medal for his services during the war, and he and his second wife Pam received an invitation through the armed forces charity the Not Forgotten Association to meet the Princess Royal at a garden party held in the grounds of Buckingham Palace.

After the war, John was awarded a grant to study singing at the Royal Academy of Music for four years. He also travelled to the Berlin and Edinburgh festivals during seven seasons with the Glyndebourne Opera Company. After 10 years in opera, he performed in West End musicals such as Camelot at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane. It was there he spent 20 years as a professional singer, before retiring to St Albans.

He founded Farmhouse Eggs and Potatoes, where he worked until he was 83 years old, driving the last of the company’s vans.

Pam and John Clifford with their invitation to Buckingham Palace to meet The Princess Royal with other war veterans. Photo: DANNY LOOPam and John Clifford with their invitation to Buckingham Palace to meet The Princess Royal with other war veterans. Photo: DANNY LOO

During his time as a deliveryman, he met and married his first wife Elizabeth and had four children: Andrew, Anne, Christopher, and Catherine.

After Elizabeth died, John married Pam and enjoyed the rest of his life in her company, going on many holidays, including visiting his sisters in Australia.

He leaves her behind, as well as four children and six grandchildren. The funeral is this Friday at 12pm at St Bartholomew’s Church on Vesta Avenue.

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I should probably have taken the hint! Walking out into the garden recently an unprecedented flock of thirty or more crows raucously greeted me from the treetops at the bottom of my garden. Cawing and croaking these big, black birds clung clumsily to the top most branches and twigs, jostling and flapping to stay balanced in a constant flurry of feathers. There is always something ominous about crows – they are after all carrion crows, the vultures of the bird world – always watching for scraps and weakness that might mean their next meal.

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