"The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing…is nothing.
He may avoid suffering and sorrow but he simply cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love, live.
Chained by his certitude, he is a slave. He has forfeited freedom."
Excerpt from the partnership Society instruction manual
Griffin Lloyd is an Alberta geologist who became involved in the fight against poverty and disease while working overseas. Through the organization he created, the Calgary based partnerSHIP Society, he has delivered supplies, expertise and hope to countless people living in less fortunate parts of the world.
Griffin Vaughn Lloyd was born on June 28, 1928 in Comox, B.C., a small community on Vancouver Island and raised in the nearby town of Courtenay. Like many families during the Great Depression, his parents Iorwerth and Catherine Lloyd struggled to provide for Griffin and his sister, Joan. Griff, as he came to be known, learned at an early age how to work for the things he needed. By the age of nine he was working with his dad on tugboats, earning five cents a week before working his way up to a dollar a day by age 15.
Griff grew up in the war years and felt a strong military presence due to the area’s naval bases, army base and military airport. Griff was an air cadet and decided to pursue a career as a pilot after high school. In 1946, three days after his 18th birthday, Griff enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force and was sent to Manning Depot near Winnipeg to begin his training. However, the pressing need for pilots for the Second World War had passed and requirements for flight training changed to include post secondary education. After active service with the RCAF, Griffin switched to the reserves and enrolled at the University of British Columbia with the intention of returning to the regular forces once he had earned the necessary degree.
He completed a year of general studies before deciding to focus on physics. On his way to enroll in those classes he ended up chatting with a geology professor who took him on a tour of the department. Griff was intrigued and decided to sign up for one course. School posters advertising geology job opportunities in Alberta further piqued his interest and he applied to serve as a summer student on a geological survey. He was successful and made his first trip to Alberta in the summer of 1949 and then returning the following year. After completing a Bachelor’s degree in Honours Geology, Griff made a permanent move to Alberta. He arrived in Calgary in 1951 with a job offer, a backpack, a pair of boots and four dollars in his pocket.
Griff revelled in the physical work of a field geologist and enjoyed the opportunity to trek, canoe and horseback ride through Alberta’s rugged landscapes. Soon the modes of transportation broadened to include bush planes and helicopters as Griffin’s work took him into the north. With additional credentials, including a post-graduate certificate and successfully completed engineering exams, he found that the burgeoning oil and gas industry offered no shortage of opportunities. Over the years, Griff was a member of teams that produced important geological discoveries in Alberta and across Canada, including many key oil and gas fields.
Another truly key development in his early career occurred when Griffin contracted pneumonia while working in the field in eastern Alberta. He was so ill that he had to be airlifted to the Holy Cross Hospital in Calgary. There he met a student nurse named Joyce [Joy] Patterson. Six weeks after their first date, Griff popped the question and they were married as soon as Joy graduated in 1954. The chance encounter blossomed into a marriage that spanned five decades and produced five children, 21 grandchildren, five great grandchildren, and a family that is Griffin’s greatest source of pride.
In the 1960’s, Griff began taking on overseas assignments and then, in time, he branched out on his own. He began serving domestic markets through G.V. Lloyd Exploration Ltd. and also co-founded Calgary International Energy Ltd. to focus on oil and gas exploration in South East Asia. His work took him to many countries in the region, including Bangladesh, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Burma (now Myanmar), Indonesia and Thailand. In the late 1970’s, one particular trip set Griffin on a new and important path. He was working in Thailand when he was asked to lend a hand at a refugee camp for those fleeing the war, starvation and political turmoil of Cambodia. Griffin was appalled by conditions in the camp and began buying medical supplies to deliver to people in need. When friends and coworkers in Calgary heard about the situation they pitched in, scrounging and donating materials for Griff to deliver on future trips.
Donations continued to pour in and the partnerShip Society was formed. Griffin headed up the wholly-volunteer run organization, with growing number of generous Calgarians stepping forward to donate everything from funding and supplies to expertise and warehouse space. Over time, donations grew to include fully equipped operating rooms, provided by Calgary health institutions, for communities in Cambodia and Nepal. In all, partnerShip would send four fully-equipped hospitals and seven clinics to South East Asian communities. The Society would also donate tons of text books for young students in Cambodia, along with other needed supplies and resources. Throughout this important work, Griff and his fellow volunteers held fast to two key principles. All resources would go directly to people in need, with no funds going to support administration or overhead, and all aid would be delivered directly into the hands of those who needed it. In order to meet the second principle the Society acquired containers that allowed it to ship donations directly overseas.
Griffin was a dedicated servant of the partnerShip Society for some 18 years until the organization reached the end of its natural lifespan and elements of its work were absorbed into various other medical aid organizations. In addition to serving with partnerShip, Griffin has made numerous contributions to the Calgary Immigrant Aid Society and his knowledge of South East Asia has proven useful to the organization. He began by sponsoring families from Bangladesh and India and then became increasingly involved with the Society as the Vietnam exodus took shape in the early 1980’s.
In describing his, and his fellow Albertans’ approach to serving others, Griff offers up something he calls the Lloyd Theory of Snow Shovels. He explains that due to the unpredictable nature of Alberta’s wintry northern environment, “Every Albertan knows what a snow shovel is. They come in all shapes and sizes. They’re used by people of all ages for cleaning sidewalks, driveways and streets, and shovelling out cars. If you don’t have a snow shovel you soon learn you have to rely on somebody that does and you appreciate that help. So it’s imbued deeply into our Alberta culture, this ability to share when it counts.” Griffin Lloyd is a sterling example of his theory in action. He is an innovative and caring Albertan who does not hesitate to step up and do what’s right when he sees a chance to help. That commitment has helped to save lives and to create more positive futures for many people around the world.
Executive Director, The Alberta Order of Excellence