Former Kavorna Café Owner Passes Away


Gib Pender, 1921-2012

Well-known Scillonian, Gib (Gilbert) Pender, has passed away at the age of 91.

Gib died on Sunday at Treliske hospital, following a short illness.

Gib Pender was born in Buzza St, Porthcressa in 1921, one of 18 brothers and sisters. His niece, Kay Banfield said his birth certificate showed his birthday as 7th March 1921 but it was actually 7th February – his father put the wrong date because he didn’t want to be fined for late registration of the birth!

His parents moved to Tremelethen farm in the 20s and Gib was raised tending the horses and dairy herd on the farm.

After serving several years in the Navy in the 1930s, Gib returned to the islands on the eve of World War II. Following the start of hostilities, he joined the Air Sea Rescue Service along with several other Scillonians including the late Matt Lethbridge.

From Radio Scilly

Gib Pender talks about his life in a special interview recorded last year for Radio Scilly

Gib spent time around the UK coast, rescuing airmen who had been shot down. He also spent time on the Clyde in Scotland and in London testing new designs for fast rescue boats and the first jet-powered flying boat, although he said in a Radio Scilly interview last year that these weren’t always very successful.

He joined several Atlantic convoys including one that set out from the US with 38 ships and arrived in Gibraltar with just 7. He was then posted to Liberia in West Africa where he often worked with American forces.

He received numerous medals and distinctions for his war service.

Following the war, Gib returned to Scilly and set up the Kavorna Café in the house that his mother had moved into. It was the islands’ first milk bar and was said to be the most fashionable place for young people to hang out in the 1950s.

Gib was well-known for hosting late night parties after the pubs in Hugh Town called last orders. He also claimed, in his own inimitable style, that he invented the ‘Flake 99’ after a Walls ice cream executive sampled his ice creams with broken chocolate flakes stuck in them in the 1960s.

Gib retired from the business in 1972 and spent much of his time on cruise holidays in various parts of the World.

Kay said his last cruise was over Christmas last year and he came back satisfied, declaring he’d been to everywhere he wanted to go and had circumnavigated the globe.

Kay says most people will remember her uncle riding his pushbike around the island in a bobble hat that was knitted by his granny years before. She also said he used to cause chaos in the town centre by parking his car in the middle of the road while he went shopping.

Kay thinks her Uncle Gib will be missed by many people, both residents and visitors alike, and that our islands have lost one of their more colourful characters.

A recent interview with Gib about his life in Scilly will air at 12.10pm on Sunday lunchtime.


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