Death of Church Lads’ & Church Girls’ Brigade stalwart and reformer

The death has taken place of Rev Charles Grice MBE, former General Secretary of the Church Lads’ & Church Girls’ Brigade on the 24th August, aged 94.

His first connection with the Church Lads’ Brigade was through the Sheffield Diocesan Regiment in the early 1970s where he was Regimental Commander.

When the Rev John Burton announced that he wished to end his ‘caretaker role’ as General Secretary in 1976, Rev Grice took over in January 1977. This entailed moving to Finchley, North London where NHQ was then based, complete with residential property for the Chief Executive. At the same time he became Chaplain to the Roxeth & Harrow Company, which had its own chapel. An early responsibility was to bring the ongoing, and lengthy, discussions on CLB-CGB amalgamation to a conclusion to establish the new CLCGB. This meant liquidating both organisations and the many challenges that came with such a move. Some took longer to overcome than others and were resolved many years later.

Once the CLCGB had formed in November 1978, a significant event for the fledgling organisation was the Royal Review held at Windsor Great Park in July 1980. Here the Patron reviewed the Brigade and it was a moment of great pride for all who took part. However the very hot weather and a lack of logistical experience did mar the event. However, out of a musical ‘mix-up’ at the Review, the Brigade was invited to participate in the 1981 Royal Tournament in front of the Queen no less. For Charles, this was a highpoint in his period of office as it brought the organisation to the attention of a large number of influential people. Later that year, he had decided not to renew his five year contract with the Brigade’s Incorporated Society (Directors). The then Governor, Sir Philip Ward, persuaded him to change his mind and he stayed until the end of 1989. His links with the Brigade were not severed as he became National Chaplain for two years afterwards.

At the inaugural Historical Group Conference in 1997, Charles was a guest speaker and he recalled many amusing tales. He felt it was a big achievement to relocate NHQ from Finchley to Wath upon Dearne in 1987, a move that was undoubtedly influenced by his Yorkshire roots being born in Rotherham. Plus there was space available for potential expansion of the existing buildings, an opportunity which was not available in Finchley. The Brigade made a large profit on the relocation and Charles took up a part-time local living, not wishing to put his energy into designing and building a training centre. The relocation made travelling to NHQ for events much easier and more accessible for a majority of the organisation.

Charles was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in the 1983 New Year’s Honours List for service to the Brigade. He was the longest serving Secretary of recent times and the longest lived.