Tributes paid to motoring magnate and sporting hero

Alan Caffyn (copy photograph) by Jon Rigby
Alan Caffyn (copy photograph) by Jon Rigby

Alan Caffyn, former chairman of Caffyns Plc and Sussex County Cricket Club, died peacefully in hospital last week, surrounded by his wife and three children at the age of 84.

Born and raised in Eastbourne, Alan was educated at Ascham Prep School and Eastbourne College, before studying for a degree in Mechanical Engineering at the Chelsea College of Aeronautics and Automobile Engineering in London.

Alan Caffyn (copy photograph) by Jon Rigby SUS-181204-105231008

Alan Caffyn (copy photograph) by Jon Rigby SUS-181204-105231008

He joined the family company, Caffyns, in 1956 as assistant sales manager of the Seaford branch. In 1961 he was promoted to the board of directors alongside his brother, Robert, and cousin, Anthony, before being appointed joint managing director in 1972. In 1981, following the death of his uncle, Sir Edward Caffyn, Alan took over as chairman and chief executive, a position he held until 1998. He continued as chairman until 2003 and thereafter as honorary president.

Alan loved all sports but his lifelong passion was for cricket. An outstanding wicketkeeper and batsman, he captained Eastbourne Cricket Club, played the occasional game for Sussex Club and Ground, played for the Free Foresters and, amongst others, the OEs, Caffyns, Ovals and Perambulators. He was chairman of Eastbourne Saffrons Sports Club, president of Sussex County Cricket Club and went on to serve as Sussex CCC’s chairman from 1990 to 1997. In 2012 he was appointed a director of the Friends of Arundel Castle Cricket Club.

Following in his family’s footsteps, Alan became an important figure in a number of organisations. In honour of his great contribution to the county, Alan was appointed a deputy lieutenant of East Sussex in 1993. He served as vice president of BEN, the automotive industry’s support service and benevolent fund, as president of Eastbourne Historic Vehicle Club, and as a committee member of St Wilfrid’s Hospice. In July 1992 he was appointed chairman of the Sussex Chamber of Commerce and Enterprise, a role he continued until March 1998. He was chairman of the Macmillan Nurses South Downs Branch, a board member of the Sussex Branch of St John’s Ambulance, patron of the Hailsham branch of Crossroads Care, chairman of Eastbourne War Memorial Housing Association, and a member of Ian Gow’s special fundraising committee for Chaseley Trust.

In addition to his enthusiasm for sport, Alan’s interests were varied and many. He was a keen and accomplished gardener, a talented pianist and a devotee of ballet, choral music and opera. He was an ardent follower of horse racing too, and part-owned two racehorses.

Alan Caffyn (copy photograph) by Jon Rigby SUS-181204-105220008

Alan Caffyn (copy photograph) by Jon Rigby SUS-181204-105220008

Alan is survived by Ann, his wife of 58 years, sons Simon and David, daughter Fiona, daughter-in-laws Sarah and Vicky, son-in-law Simon, and five grandchildren, James, Holly, Tom, Sam and Annie.

A family spokesperson said, “Ever the proud grandfather he would pace the boundary or touchline of his grandchildren’s many sporting events, loudly cheering them on, or applaud them from the audience of the many plays, concerts, and dance shows in which they performed. He will be greatly missed.”

The family is holding a private funeral but a service of Thanksgiving takes place on Wednesday May 23 at 12pm at All Saints Church. The family is asking for donations, instead of flowers, to the Friends of the Eastbourne Hospital.

Alan Caffyn (copy photograph) by Jon Rigby SUS-181204-105253008

Alan Caffyn (copy photograph) by Jon Rigby SUS-181204-105253008