MANY people in the Skegness area do not realise that the name Grunnill, and its family tree, dates back to November 1590 when John Grunnill was a resident and Skegness was a fishing village.
Skegness is now a thriving town as well as a tourist attraction and the Grunnill family is still going strong 407 years later in 1997. One of them is Coun Frank Grunnill, of Mayfield Grove, Skegness.
Coun Frank Grunnill was born in Skegness in 1932, and has become an important member of the community and has served on Skegness Town Council for the past 14 years.
At the age of nine, he joined the Skegness life-boys, and three years later transferred into the Boys Brigade which was attached to St Paul’s Baptist Church. He became a Sunday school teacher in his teens.
As Frank was brought up in a Catholic family, it proved very difficult for him because the brigade paraded once a month to the Baptist Church, which meant he had to run to the Catholic Church and, after the service, run all the way back to St Paul’s to take up the bugle for the parade. A year later, his mother agreed to him becoming a Methodist member.
Frank went on to become drum major of the band and carried the mace at the lead. He remembers well one embarrassing moment when the band were invited to lead the carnival parade at Boston. Not knowing the route, he was told to just follow the policeman in front. Unfortunately, there were two, so he decided to follow the Inspector. The rest of the band followed the sergeant on his cycle and went the other way. Frank said he soon caught up with them!
This small incident did not make the slightest difference as he went through the ranks of the brigade and became their Captain in 1968.
Frank has many pleasant boyhood memories. His mother was a ‘Fravigar’ before she married Frank’s father, a Grunnill, and the Fravigars were famous in Skegness for their ice cream, which was taken down to the beach in little carts pulled by a horse, and sold direct from their own little stands. Frank used to sit in the cart between the ice cream tubs and, once on the beach, stayed with his parents from early morning to late at night, and loved every minute. Incidentally, the Fravigars are still well known in Skegness for the manufacture of quality sweets.
Frank met Lilian when he was 16 and they courted for about three years before they married on September 1, 1951, and have one daughter Cheryl and a five year old grandson Elliot.
When Frank joined the RAF to do his National Service,. Lilian took over the Sunday school class. After being demobbed, Frank returned to the Post Office.
His first job was at the Post Office (when he was 15) as a telegram boy. He had to cycle to Ingoldmells all the time with telegrams for holidaymakers. He said that every time he returned to the Post Office there were more waiting to be delivered to Ingoldmells.
Three years later he became a postman, then went up to postman higher grade, before becoming Manager of Skegness Postal Services. When he retired in 1992, he had completed 46 years in the same post office, which is very unusual especially for a manager.
Frank has always been interested in local affairs so, in 1983, decided to stand for Skegness Town Council and, because he felt politics should not come into local government, stood as an independent and has been one for 14 years. He is now chairman of the planning committee.
Coun Grunnill is pleased that he gets on well with all the other councillors, and looks forward to the annual Christmas dinner organised by Skegness Town Council when they can all get together for a social evening.
He did say, however, that some residents are under the impression that the council pays, but it is not so as each councillor pays their own way. “And we would not have it any other way!” he declared.
In May, 1990, Coun Grunnill had the honour of being Mayor of Skegness, which was very important to him because of his long family history with the town. It was a fantastic year for him with many highlights he will never forget.
One of these was the handing over of “The Charter of Friendship” to Commander Stephen MacKay of HMS Royal Arthur Association, and especially the parade which was led by the band of the Royal Marines. It was special to him because, as a young boy, every Sunday morning he would cycle with his sister Millie to HMS Royal Arthur (Butlins) at Ingoldmells to see the parade as the ensign was hoisted.
Another highlight was the visit made by 40 Mayors to Yorkshire TV Television Studios at Leeds. Frank said they were called the “Chain Gang” because of all the gold around their necks and, for security reasons, had to be taken by coaches from reception to the studios which was only about 600 yards.
Another proud moment was in August 1990 when the Skegness Carnival procession was held.
Instead of riding in the Rolls Royce, as a way to thank Frank for his many years of good service, the Post Office provided one of the original mail coaches drawn by four horses, which used to go between York and London for many years.
Another happy memory was the garden party in the Town Hall grounds on September 1, 1990, which happened to be his wedding anniversary. They invited 150 ordinary people who never get invited to such events. They were representatives from charitable organisations who did all the work with the collection boxes rather that the organising.
During that afternoon, the Mayoress named a horse owned by the late Coun Ron Scott “Jolly Fisherman” which went on to race at Market Rasen racecourse.
But it was not all plain sailing for the Mayor of Skegness. Frank remembers his first ever aeroplane ride from Ingoldmells across the sea. At one stage the wind was so strong that the plane stalled and he was terrified. He was really glad when he got his feet back on the ground. A helicopter ride a little later was much more enjoyable.
The most disappointing time was when he attended as Mayor of Skegness the launch of the Lincolnshire Poacher lifeboat. Guests were invited to board her for a trip. He remembers standing at the ladder expecting to be invited up but the ladder was taken up and he was left standing there. He was not sure what hurt the most, because he was the Mayor or because he was a Grunnill.
It seems most of his relatives have been connected with the lifeboat, and there has been a Grunnill on the boat since the very first one, so you can understand his disappointment.
Four years ago, Coun Grunnill was invited to be president of the Multiple Sclerosis Society which he gladly accepted because it is something he enjoys doing.
He also enjoys bowling – indoors and out – and has been a member of Ingoldmells Outdoor Bowling Club for about 20 years, and their chairman. During the winter he bowls at Addlethorpe Indoor Bowling Club.
Being frank, he admits to being a frantic Frank Sinatra fan and has seen him in concert in London four times. He has followed his career since he was 14 years old and has most of his records, tapes and cds. I wonder if he thought of Frank Sinatra singing “Come Fly With Me” when the plane stalled on that frightening aeroplane ride?