Top scholar and committed Christian dies aged 40

Date: Monday 3rd September 2018

GERVASE Markham, who fought cancer for 18 years without complaint, lost his battle on 27th July having just turned 40.

He was born in Carlisle, the first son of Freddy and Suzie Markham, of Morland House, Morland, on 21st June, 1978.

He went to Morland School until the age of eight, when he left for a boarding school, Bramcote in Scarborough. During one school holiday, he sold water around the village which he collected from the village spring.

He was an intelligent child and aged 13 won second scholarship to Winchester College. The top scholar had already been at the school for a year so Gervase was first in his year.

At Winchester, Gervase enjoyed many pastimes and acted as the scorer for the 1st XI cricket team.

During his gap year, he sailed for several months on the sail training ship Astrid and also worked for an American friend in Massachusetts.

In 1997 he went with his parents on an expedition across the Himalayas via the Parang La, following in the footsteps of General Fred Markham in 1850, ending in Leh, Ladakh.

Gervase went to University College, Oxford, to study chemistry. He got a first in part one, but then changed to computation and got a first in part two, spending four years there and gaining a double first.

While at Oxford, he attended St Ebbe’s Church which had a profound effect on his future life as he became an evangelical Christian.

He also was diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma, a slow growing but deadly form of cancer. He took his finals a day early so he could be operated on the next day. Over the years, he had many operations until no more could be done.

From school, he had worked as a volunteer for an Enfield computer company, Data Connection, later also working for Mozilla Corporation, the firm behind Firefox, dedicated to preserving and enhancing open source software for the use of all, free of charge. He became one of their first UK employees, their youngest ever, and worked for them all his life.

In 2010, Gervase married Ruth Rotter having met at Oak Hill Theological College in North London. Ruth was planning to be a missionary in Bangladesh but they moved to Sheffield becoming members of the Crowded House Church.

William was born in 2012, John in 2013 and Samuel two years later. They moved from Sheffield to Loughborough, the home of Ruth’s parents and sister, again being members of the local Crowded House Church.

Gervase kept his general health until recently but in late 2017 it was clear that he had not long to live. He aimed to live to be 40 which he achieved, and he started writing a book about Christian attitudes to intellectual property which is likely to be published.

He had a last holiday at his old home, Morland House, where he died surrounded by all his family.

His funeral took place at Loughborough on 6th August, followed by burial in the new churchyard at Morland starting a new row of family graves — a pioneer to the end.

As well as his wife and children, he is survived by two brothers, Arthur, a solicitor, of Esher, Surrey, and Francis, beverages manager for a cruise line, of Leeds, and a sister, Diana, designer, of Arnside, South Cumbria. He also leaves his mother, Suzie Balfour, of Morland, and his father, Freddy Markham, also of Morland.