Remembering Martin Scobell Boissier
PUBLISHED: 00:00 15 June 2020
Martin passed away on 16th April through complications attributed to coronavirus at the age of 93, on his 65th wedding anniversary and one month short of his 94th birthday.
Born at 4 Vernon Street, Derby, Martin Scobell Boissier was the second son of Ernest Gabriel Boissier and wife Doris. Like Martin their third son, Roger, also became a High Sheriff of Derbyshire while Martin’s wife Margaret also served in 2000.
Having attended prep school at Bramcote, in Scarborough, Martin entered the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth in January 1940. His first assignment was as a midshipman aboard HMS Birmingham, deployed to Greenock to collect £2m-worth of gold for onward transportation to Alexandria.
He served on HMS Isis and was on board HMS Orion as an 18-year-old on D-Day as part of Operation Overlord off the Normandy beaches, where he saw his eldest brother John aboard his motor torpedo boat which sped by, close enough to recognise each other.
Tragically, John was killed on 13th May 1945, when the mine sweeper MGB 2002 on which he was serving struck a mine in the Skaggerak.
In 1947 Martin qualified as a pilot in the Fleet Air Arm. He was part of the 810 squadron that provided ground support for the army during the Korean War. In 1955, urged on by his mother, ‘to get on with it’, he married Margaret. Not long after, Martin was stationed in Malta where Margaret joined him for six months. In 1958, he retired from the Fleet Air Arm with the rank of Lieutenant Commander and entered civilian business life in Derby.
By the end of his naval career, Martin had undertaken 366 deck landings, flown 1,961 hours fixed wing single aircraft, 250 hours twin engined aircraft and 50 hours in helicopters.
Martin joined Aiton & Co Ltd in Derby which his father, an electrical engineer, had helped build up alongside Arthur Aiton and where his brother Roger was later Managing Director. Martin was promoted to Personnel Director in 1976 and when Aitons became part of the Whessoe Group, became Group Personnel Controller in 1980.
His local business life included directorships at Silkolene in Belper, ATV (Midlands) and Central TV Eastern Region. He served as Chairman of the Derbyshire FHSA, of both the Derby and Derbyshire Chambers of Commerce, Derby Lifeboat committee, Derby Sea Cadets, Derbyshire District Manpower committee and the Arkwright Society. He was President of the Derby Royal School of the Deaf and of the Derby and District Engineering Employers Federation. In 1977, he became a Deputy Lieutenant and Deputy Chairman of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Appeal. In 1978 he served as High Sheriff and as Vice Lord Lieutenant from 1992 – 2001, during which time many royal visits were made to the county.
A great family man, his mantra was always to treat others as one would wish to be treated and he enjoyed talking to anyone and everyone from all generations. He was widely read, loved art and history and had a huge interest in opera and music. A keen cricket fan, Martin was a member of Lord’s for many years; renowned for hosting a large picnic party on the Nursery Lawn - complete with a choice of Port or Madeira.
He even introduced Debo, Duchess of Devonshire, to Madeira - she wrote later to say she had never tasted it before and by then was in her 80s. He adored his garden in Idridgehay where he took great pride in his camellias - often competing with Andrew, Duke of Devonshire, at various county shows - and had an extensive wine cellar!
A TRUE ENGLISHMAN
Derby-born with a French surname directly tracing back to a Huguenot French family who reached England in 1740; Gaspard Boissier having fled to Geneva at the time of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685.
Martin passed away on 16th April through complications attributed to coronavirus at the age of 93, on his 65th wedding anniversary and one month short of his 94th birthday. He leaves behind wife Margaret, daughter Susan, son John, and three grandchildren, Hannah, Sophie and James.