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John Mark Ambrose Herdman: Ulster diplomat served all over world in a distinguished career

By Laurence White

Published 28/08/2015

John Herdman was Governor of the British Virgin Islands
John Herdman was Governor of the British Virgin Islands

An Ulster man who was a former Governor of the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean has died.

John Mark Ambrose Herdman was a member of the Herdman family who ran one of Northern Ireland's most noted linen production companies at Sion Mills - the village they created in 1835.

Mr Herdman had a very distinguished life in the diplomatic service, which saw him occupy senior positions in places as diverse as Kenya, Jordan and finally the BVI

Born on April 26, 1932 in Rhu, Scotland, the son of Commander Claud Herdman of the Royal Navy and his wife Joan, who died four years later.

He was brought up by his father's sister in Northern Ireland until his father remarried in 1939.

Educated at St Edwards School, Oxford and Trinity College Dublin, he spent a further year at Queen's College Oxford as preparation for joining the British Overseas Civil Service.

Mr Herdman served in Kenya as a district officer and later district commissioner until that country's independence in 1964.

He then transferred to the Diplomatic Service where he studied Arabic near Beirut before working in Jordan.

Other overseas postings included Zambia, Saudi Arabia and Malawi before he moved to the Caribbean where he was Deputy Governor of Bermuda from 1983-86.

He was then appointed Governor of BVI until 1991. The following year he spent some time with the EU peace monitoring mission to the former Yugoslavia before retiring.

In 1979 he was made a Lieutenant in the Royal Victorian Order by the Queen during her visit to Malawi and was awarded a CBE in 1990.

He had a keen interest in gardening, fishing, philately and watching cricket. He married Elizabeth Dillon in 1963 and they had a son, Patrick, and two daughters, Deirdre and Bridget. They also had four grandchildren.

Mr Herdman was buried in Surrey earlier this week.

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