Obituary for Ivan Gardiner

Ivan GardinerIvan Gardiner, better known as Gus, died at the Old Vicarage, Moulsford, on February 1st 2014.


Ivan Gardiner was born in Marple, Cheshire, on March 31, 1925.  He quickly showed that he had an aptitude for leadership and was a talented sportsman.   Gus was head boy at Macclesfield’s King’s School.  He was a force to contend with on the rugby field, captaining the team.   Gus was Cadet Regimental Sergeant Major of the school’s Officer Training Corps and was involved with training the Macclesfield Home Guard.

Service in World War 2

In 1943, Ivan Gardiner left school to volunteer for the war effort.  In 1944, from Officer Training School, Gus was enlisted into the Indian Army.  He commanded and trained the boys’ company at the Regimental Centre. Later he moved to the Jungle Training Division of the M & R Sikh Regiment where.  As a company instructor, he specialised in assault engineering and demolitions.

Ivan Gardiner joined the 1st Battalion as a signal officer and saw active service in Burma.  Gus was seriously wounded, resulting in the loss of his right hand. He was finally discharged from the army in 1948.


Whilst convalescing, he had begun an agricultural degree at Reading University.  After completion, Gus joined the research staff at Reading, gathering data from farms throughout Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. His work took him as far as Botswana.

Family life & the nursing agency

In 1946, Gus married Dorothy Benoy. They had two children, John and Janet, and settled into a happy post-war life in Sonning. In 1958, they moved to Emmer Green.

Dorothy had been running a nursing agency from home and Gus had undertaken some of the administrative duties.  In 1968, Dorothy established Mrs Gardiner’s Nursing Agency. Gus became very involved with much of the organisation of this very successful business.

In 1975, Gus resigned from Reading University, where he had become a lecturer in agricultural economics, to take on full-time duties at Gardiner’s.   The agency thrived and still exists today as Gardiner’s Nursing & Homecare, run by Gus’s grandson, John Joe Cottam. Gus continued to be involved with the agency until a few years ago.

During the Seventies, Gus became chairman of the nursing and medical agencies section of FRES, now known as the Recruitment & Employment Confederation.  Gus was increasingly involved with national developments, including annually determining NHS fees for agency nurses throughout the country.  He was also pivotal in developing codes of conduct and inspections of nursing and care agencies.

Life outside work

Gus was passionate about helping people and was renowned for his generosity and caring manner.   He was a leading light for the Reading branch of the British Limbless Ex-Servicemen’s Association.   Apart from supporting veterans, he aided in the development of prosthesis, in particular the “Russian arm”.

He enjoyed Scottish dancing and loved spending time in the couple’s house in Spain but his greatest pride and joy came from his family, especially his wife Dorothy. In her last years, he devoted himself to caring for her.   His family and friends will remember him with great fondness, gratitude and enormous pride.

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My grandparents Dorothy & Ivan (Gus) Gardiner established Gardiner’s in 1968. Dorothy & Gus were very inclusive and ran Gardiner’s as a family business – my mother, uncle & aunt have all been involved with managing the business. Read More