Ancestorium Family Tree Collaboration

Robin Garth Pettitt

Male 1932 - 1992  (59 years)

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  • Name Robin Garth Pettitt 
    Born 14 Aug 1932 
    Gender Male 
    Education Norwich School Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Info 1 See also “Wilfred Stanley Pettitt (1904 – 1978)” DECEMBER 31, 2021 ~ JUSTIN KIRBY at for paintings and more Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Died 29 May 1992 
    Person ID I158779  Ancestorium
    Last Modified 1 Jan 2022 

    Father Wilfred Stanley Pettitt,   b. 19 Aug 1904, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 10 Jan 1978, (aged 74) Eastbourne, East Sussex, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 73 years) 
    Mother Bessie Hilda Clough,   b. 6 Jun 1902, Norwich, Norfolk, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1974, Norwich, Norfolk, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 71 years) 
    Married 25 Jul 1931  Heigham St Thomas, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F73001  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Elizabeth Margaret Jenkins,   b. 1934,   d. 1969  (Age 35 years) 
    Married 1964 
     1. Private
     2. Living
    Family ID F42649  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • The Times Wednesday June 3 1992: OBITUARIES
      Robin Garth Pettitt, former head of the UN and Commonwealth department at the Overseas Development Administration (ODA), died in a road accident on May 29th aged 59. He was born on August 14, 1932.
      Garth Pettitt was a highly principled civil servant, whose professional work among people of the Third World was underpinned by his liberal sympathies for the deprived.
      He was not a practising Christian but he gave moral support to the Anglican priest, Father Bill Shergold, in his pastoral work among the biking fraternity of North London. Shergold, after befriending a number of bikers at a café on the North Circular road, invited them to use his church hall as a centre. This became known as the 59 Club, where Pettitt was at one time helped and advisor.
      Pettitt himself was a motor cycling fanatic. Whitehall colleagues were accustomed to seeing him roaring to work on one of his three 1,000cc machines. He even wrote to a reception at Mansion House, changing from his leathers into his white tie and tails.
      Yet he said that he joined the colonial office because of his other passion, ornithology. The prospect of free travel overseas offered previously undreamed-of facilities for bird watching/ Throughout his subsequent colourful career he rarely travelled without his large binoculars, even when visiting the UN in Manhattan.
      He was born at Norwich, son of an artist W.S. Pettitt, who exhibited his landscapes at the Royal Academy. After national service in the RAF, Garth Pettitt went to Selwyn College, Cambridge, to read history – from which he immediately switched to economics. He missed his first, it was aid, because the examiner couldn’t read his handwriting.
      When he joined the colonial service in 1959 he envisaged a career slowly dismantling the old empire. But the speed of the process quickly overtook him. In 1960 he was in the Gibraltar and South Atlantic section of what had then been the christened the Commonwealth Office, dealing with the Falklands among others. I then became the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and by 1967 he was the first secretary at the high commission in Nigeria.
      He had married in 1964 Elizabeth Jenkins, herself the daughter of a colonial administrator. It was said that she grew so tired waiting for him to propose that she flew off to teach in the United States. Panic-stricken he caught the next plane and proposed in the cathedral at San Francisco.
      She fell terminally ill, however, while in Lagos, forcing their early return to Britain. Pettitt thus spent the next four years based in Whitehall, first in the UN and then the commodities department of the Foreign Office.
      He was transferred to the ODA at his own request in 1972 and with his FCO experience behind him was promptly assigned to working with the UN for two years. After 12 months dealing with universities and technical education in the Third World, he was posted to the Pacific territories section in 1975.
      He travelled widely in the region during the next four years as he played a part in bringing a number of colonies to independence and supporting them in the first steps to nation states.
      He was closely involved with the Gilbert and Ellice Islands (now Kiribas and Tuvalu), with the New Hebrides (now Vanuata) and Samoa and, together with the Australian government, in Papua New Guinea.
      In 1979 he was promoted acting assistant secretary and sent to East Kilbride, near Glasgow, in charge of the newly dispersed section of the ODA dealing with the recruitment of technical co-operation officers. Including doctors, nurses, scientists and engineers, to work overseas on aid projects.
      He remained there for four years, returning to London in 1983 to head the UN and Commonwealth department. As such he represented Britain in a number of specialist UN agencies like Unicef and Unesco, travelling extensively to New York, Paris and Geneva. He also became closely involved with multilateral, as opposed to unilateral aid.
      After taking early retirement last August, he was visited by the British committee of the Unicef to join its  executive board. He accepted and returned with alacrity and returned only 2 weeks ago for representing the agency on a visit to Sri Lanka and the Maldive Islands. He has just completed the first draft of his report before his death.
      His wife dies in 1970. Their son and daughter survived him.