Harry Townsend – Forever in our hearts

20 Dec 2020   |   Michelle Baker

Harry Townsend (28 August 1936 – 21 December 2020)

It is with sadness we announce the passing of Harry Townsend, our esteemed founder, former chair, and dear friend. Harry, 84 died this week following a two-year illness, suffering from prostate cancer.

Harry, who was born in Derby, moved to East Grinstead after marrying his wife Myfanwy and lived in the town for over 50 years.

He founded the Melanoma Fund in 2000, known then as the Myfanwy Townsend Melanoma Research Fund after Myfanwy died of melanoma in 1999. Having built the charity, he remained committed and passionate to it for nearly 20 years, supporting its work, and following its progress daily.

A keen, and self-confessed ‘eccentric gardener’, Harry was a Master of Horticulture (MHORT), who began his career as a supervisor at Wakehurst Place. In 1973 was promoted to the position of assistant curator at Kew Gardens, where he remained until 1987. Harry inspired the launch of the charity’s Watch Your Back! sun protection campaign for gardeners, drawing in support from his incredible contacts in the horticultural industry.

Harry loved sport and in particular rugby. A ‘brilliant’ coach, he leaves a legacy of incredible memories with his ‘old boys’; the former players from Felbridge Juniors he helped take to stunning success and international fame. Led by his passion and enthusiasm for the game, with his wife Myfanwy at his side, their story is one of legend, and one which everyone involved holds close to their hearts.

His love of life and affinity with the great outdoors saw him lead a full and active life. He founded the Trail Running Association, ran marathons, climbed mountains, walked across islands (with a wheelbarrow named George), was a published author, and combined this with his charitable work, raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for melanoma research.

A loving dad, Harry leaves three sons, Stewart, Cameron, and Mark, and five grandchildren. His family, and all those who knew him, will agree that he was unique and much loved; a rather modest, but special human who truly believed in people.

Blessed with extraordinary compassion, kindness, and selflessness, there will only be one Harry Townsend, an inspiring force who positively and consistently impacted the lives of all he met. His death will leave a huge hole in many hearts, hopefully, filled with the incredible life memories that he helped create.

From all at the Melanoma Fund.