Chris was one of our own. An invaluable BSF Council Member for almost 14 years, serving with distinction as secretary for 13 of those years. His passing sent a shock wave through the industry and the BSF website was inundated with messages of condolence.
Some of these messages are posted below;
‘This is absolutely devastating - I am sorry to hear of the passing of Chris. I had no idea he was unwell. Chris was one of the nicest people I have known - quiet, unassuming and thoroughly professional in his business life and as Honorary Secretary of the British Society of Flavourists, a position held from 2000 to 2013.’ Roger Levicki
‘I was very sad indeed to hear that Chris has passed. I remember him as a bright spark and an immense source of fun. We worked together for a while many many years ago at A E Bevan (part of Duckworth) in Southport. It was the sixties and I have found a photo of us hard at work in the pub. Chris is framed by the window and I am the scruffy individual in the lower left of the picture.’ John Wright
‘It is very sad news and a shock. I have known Chris from his Cantrell and Cochrane days. Please pass on my condolences.' Roger Dunton
'Very sad news and especially at still a very young age he passed away …hopefully he will be in peace. My sincere condolences to his family and relatives.’ Cornelius Ellie
‘That is really shocking news. A lovely man that genuinely will be sadly missed. May he rest in peace.’ Steven Ellis
‘So sorry to receive this news. My condolences to family, friends and ex-colleagues.’ Sue Wright
‘So sad to hear this news. He was such a nice guy and always giving a lot of energy to the Society and always available for help.’ John Knoop
These messages are testament to the great esteem and the high regard with which he was held by his many friends and colleagues. His funeral was a very moving occasion for all who attended, held at Bentley Crematorium in Brentwood and conducted by Judith Peacock, a pastor and friend of Chris. Five personal tributes were read out at the funeral by Christopher Thompson, a friend from the age of four, David Darrah, a friend from his university years, David Berryman for whom he worked as a consultant, Phil Spratt who also hired him as a consultant for Britvic and Dave Baines a friend on the BSF Council. Below is a distillate of what was said.
Chris was born in Southport, Lancashire in 1950 and when he was four years old attended Croxton School, a prep school where he met Chris Thompson who remained his friend for 60 years. They built and flew model planes together and later became interested in golf, both becoming junior members of Hesketh Golf Club and together attended the World Golf Open Championship in 1961. In 1964 they both went to watch the Beatles in the Cavern Club. He recalls that Chris was very bright and passed the exam for common entrance to public schools which took him to Ellesmere College a year early at the age of 12. From there he went on to read Natural Sciences at Downing College, Cambridge.
After University, Chris followed his father into the soft drinks trade, working first for the family business, A E Bevan, and then for Duckworth’s. During this period he studied for a Diploma in Business Management at Liverpool University. David Darrah recalled his interest in music which included Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa and more latterly Michael Nyman, The Penguin Café Orchestra and Philip Glass. He also relayed some of the fun times of parties fuelled by Bevan’s apple concentrate which had somehow been fermented, and a number of practical jokes which portrayed Chris’s mischievous sense of humour.
Chris moved south to Muswell Hill and then later to Kingston working for Coca Cola and Schweppes where his creative talent was recognised in the market place with the development of products such as Lilt and J20. He moved on from there to Britvic in Chelmsford and bought a house in Brentwood.
He took official retirement from Britvic over 10 years ago but continued to work as a consultant for Britvic and for other companies such as Noisy Drinks and David Berryman Ltd. Tracey Turner recalled – ‘I met Chris 9 years ago and he came to work with me as a consultant 3 days a week. We became good friends and he asked me to join him and be a member on the BFS monthly board meetings. We attended many lectures and gala nights over the years together. Every year we got together a team of 5 from David Berryman Ltd for the BSF Quiz night. We had many giggles at the quiz and he obviously proved to be a very knowledgeable man. We all enjoyed tucking into our annual fish and chips and chicken and chips. I feel a massive loss in the passing of Chris he was truly a lovely man who will be very sadly missed.
Phil Spratt recalled how he first met Chris. He had been working on a drinks project for weeks with some of the world’s top flavour houses. Despite this they still hadn’t managed to create products of the quality that a company like Britvic was looking for. A colleague introduced him to Chris and at first he recalled how he was sceptical that a quiet almost professor-like character would be able to help. When he told Chris about the challenge he just shrugged and said ‘I don’t see why not’ and within days was coming up with the products they were looking for. Phil described Chris as a quiet, unassuming man who was a creative genius. He was certainly not one to ever boast or seek praise for his achievements and consequently very few people appreciated that he was the creator of many of the drinks enjoyed globally on a daily basis. Phil wanted everyone to know that the team at Britvic knew Chris as an immensely highly valued knowledgeable colleague but also as a cherished genuinely warm individual and a great friend.
Chris loved his work as secretary of the BSF and was heavily involved with the big events that have been so successful over the years such as the Annual Symposium, the many great Gala Nights held in London and more recently the Table Talk Exhibition held in Amsterdam. He was a great support to the seven Presidents that served over the period of his secretariat and provided a steadying hand over difficult times and worked diligently to foster the aims of the BSF. Steve Pearce, President 2006-2008 reflects that ‘Chris was a great support during my time on Council - glad I took the opportunity to tell him how grateful I was for that support when I did’. The legacy he has left is a successful, thriving Society. He was one of the good guys and will be sorely missed.
Over the past 30 years Chris and his partner Judy were a constant support to each other. They enjoyed numerous holidays every year in the Lake District where he absolutely loved the walking and the peace. His ashes will be scattered by Bassenthwaite Lake beneath Skiddaw close to Keswick. All our condolences go to Judy, his sister Janet and the wider family.