John, 7th Lord Brabourne
John was in the group of family members that accompanied Mountbatten onboard 'Shadow V' on that fateful day - 27th August 1979 - when Mountbatten was murdered by the IRA. John and his wife Patricia survived the explosion but were seriously injured and spent many months in hospital and recovering. However among the fatal casualties were John's mother - Doreen, The Dowager Lady Brabourne (1896-1979) and their youngest son (a twin) - The Hon. Nicholas Knatchbull (1964-1979)
Both John and Patricia worked hard to rebuild their lives with fortitude, compassion without any bitterness and were determined that the Mountbatten/Knatchbull family would not be associated with tragedy of Mullaghmore in 1979 and they devoted the years after the bombing to restore peace, hope and certainty to their family - and to others.
A British Academy of Film
& Television Arts (BAFTA) award
RIGHT: The insignia of a
Commander of the Most Excellent Order
of the British Empire (CBE)
Patricia & John, 7th Lord Brabourne in their hospital beds
(side by side - devoted as always) recovering from their injuries after the explosion
However, the explosion in August 1979, would not only personally affect John's family but also would affect his career in the film industry too. Although John did continue for a short while to produce other films, retirement was inevitable. In 1979, he was appointed a Fellow of the British Film Institute (BFI) and subsequently was appointed a Trustee of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), an organisation which he did much to fund and develop. John also became a director of Thames Television from 1975-1993 and its Chairman 1990-1993. John also served as a Governor of various schools, including Norton Knatchbull School 1947-2000, Wye Agricultural College 1955-2000 and Gordonstoun School 1964-1994. He was also a Pro-Chancellor of the University of Kent 1993-1999. In the New Year's Honours List of 1993, John, 7th Lord Brabourne was appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE).
Understandably, John rarely spoke publicly about the bombing, but he and his wife gave a substantial sum of money towards the endowment of a bursary in the name of their son - Nicholas, at the Dragon Preparatory School in Oxford, which has been associated with the Mountbatten/Knatchbull family for 50 years. Shortly before the launch of a public appeal to raise money for the award, Patricia said - "the past 25 years would have been far more difficult without my husband. In fact it would have been unbearably ghastly. We have been married a long time, but I dare say that if we had a spare lunch or dinner and had to pick one person, we'd still choose each other." The Nicholas Knatchbull Travel Fund (previously known as the Nicholas Knatchbull Memorial Fund) was established to offer financial assistance to 'Old Dragons' to enable them to take part in activities and expeditions which encourage initiative and foster understanding between young people both in the United Kingdom and abroad.
ABOVE: John, 7th Lord Brabourne being "surprised"
by Michael Aspel for the show "This Is Your Life"
RIGHT: Patricia & John, 7th Lord Brabourne
during the recording of "This Is Your Life"
During a gala evening for what Thames Television billed as their 501st episode, “This Is Your Life” host Michael Aspel (b.1933) surprised John at London’s Old Brewery, in front of an audience of past 'subjects'. At this special occasion, Aspel read out a personal message from Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales (b.1948). The show was broadcast on 17th October 1990 and was a worthy tribute to John, 7th Lord Brabourne, who by this time was also the Chairman of Thames Television.
John, 7th Lord Brabourne & Patricia, in their garden in Mersham, Kent
- taken shortly before his death
The joint grave of Patricia, 2nd Countess Mountbatten of Burma
& her husband - John, 7th Lord Brabourne
at St John the Baptish Church, Mersham, Kent
On 22nd September 2005, John, 7th Lord Brabourne died at his family home, Newhouse in Mersham, near Ashford, Kent. His beloved wife (of nearly 60 years) and their six children were present. His funeral took place on 30th September 2005 at St John the Baptist Church, his local church in Mersham, Kent. A memorial service of thanksgiving at the Guards’ Chapel, London was held on 15th November 2005, and was attended by Queen Elizabeth II (1926(1952- ) and Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh (b.1921) and many other members of the Royal Family. Following John's death, Patricia and John's eldest son - Norton (b.1947), who had been known as Lord Romsey (his mother's courtesy title) since 1979, succeeded as 8th Lord Brabourne.
Patricia making a speech establishing
The John Brabourne Awards (JBA)
Throughout his career John consistently championed the need to support new talent entering into the film and television industries, a cause he furthered in his time as a Trustee of the Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund from 1985-1988. The 'John Brabourne Awards' (JBA) was founded as a talent development programme providing financial assistance of between £1000 and £5000 to individuals working behind the scenes in the Film and TV industries. John and Patricia’s son - The Hon. Michael-John Knatchbull (b.1950) is on the judging committee.