CLAYTON, Geoffrey

Geoffrey Clayton (1933–2009)

Geoffrey Clayton, who died in March 2009 after a brave battle against cancer, spent almost forty years in international banking, mainly in the Middle East but also in the Far East and Europe.

His career in the Middle East started in the late 1950s with the Eastern Bank in Bahrain. This was followed by an attachment to the Rasheed Bank in Iraq. He was then sent to Lebanon for Arabic language training at the FCO’s Middle East Centre for Arabic Studies (MECAS) in the mountain village of Shemlan.

From the mid-1960s until 1967, Geoffrey served as Manager of the Eastern Bank, Mukalla, in the Eastern Aden Protectorate. The Bank, situated by the seashore, was a haven of air-conditioned comfort in which Geoffrey and his wife, Winifred, generously entertained members of the town’s expatriate community. Not only did they share with us their privileged access to luxuries unavailable in the local suq (such as fresh steak and other delicacies from Kenya), but also the use of their squash court, the only facility of its kind in the entire region.

During the early months of 1967, against the background of growing political turbulence in Aden, Mukalla became the scene of several terrorist incidents which precipitated the evacuation of British families. Geoffrey resolved to remain at his post, but a bomb attack on the Bank made his position untenable; he was rescued from the roof of the building by an SAS helicopter, and given temporary refuge in the British Residency before flying out to Aden. Geoffrey showed similar courage in running the gauntlet of political violence in downtown Beirut. Having resigned from the Eastern Bank, he spent seven years managing a consortium bank in Lebanon. In 1975 he was recruited by Lloyds for the challenging task of opening and running their office in Cairo, and he was to remain in Egypt for nine years. His next posting with Lloyds was to Taiwan, and his last before retirement was to Switzerland.

Geoffrey was a devoted family man, and his wide range of interests included sailing, travel and the arts. In addition to his membership of the British-Yemeni Society and the MECAS Association, Geoffrey supported Friends of Hadhramaut and a number of other charities. He is survived by his wife, Winifred, his son, Walter, and his two daughters, Sarah-Jane and Wendy.

Author: 
John Shipman