I first recall meeting John in the mid-1970s, when he and his wife Olive became members of the congregation at Chingford URC.
At the time they were in their late fifties and had moved from Potters Bar so they could be nearer to their daughter Pamela who lived in Chingford.
In fact “nearer” was a bit of an understatement because Pam and her husband Sam lived in an upper maisonette and John and Olive bought the one downstairs.
When my mother Phyllis, one of the Church elders, heard the reason why they had come to Chingford, she ventured the opinion that they would be unlikely to play a particularly active part in Church life.
Fortunately for us all, as we have discovered over the past forty years or so, she could not have been more wrong! They both became elders and joined wholeheartedly in very many activities, remaining close friends of Phyllis even after she had gone to live in Dorset.
John became a volunteer for Help on Call, the local charity run from St Anne’s Church at Chingford Hatch. One of his main tasks was to provide transport, using his car to take elderly people to medical appointments. This he did for a great number of years, only stopping in his nineties by which time he himself was much older than many of the people he had been helping.
John and Olive also travelled extensively and John was a great collector of foreign postage stamps, specialising in countries like Australia and Papua New Guinea which they had visited often.
Unusually for someone of his age, John kept very much up to date with modern technology. I well recall going to see him in 2009 after my mother had died. John had been asked to prepare a short tribute to her for the Church newsletter and wanted to be sure I approved of what he what he was going to say. At that time John was 92 years old and I was expecting him to show me some handwritten notes. Instead he logged on to a computer and got up a Word document which he was proposing to forward by email to the newsletter editor. He was still emailing in December 2018.
I also remember John telling me not that many years ago how he and Olive had “Skype” conversations with their son Richard and his family in Australia. Despite being about forty years younger than John, I don’t think I even knew at that time what Skype was. John described it to me, saying it was just like being in the same room with the people you were talking to. He always did seem to have a knack of explaining things at just the right level.
Also he took an interest in the young people of the Church, even in his final months still wanting to know how they were getting on and giving advice when asked.
John always took a great interest in sport and right up until the end of his life. Just a few weeks short of his 102nd birthday, he was keen to read the cricket scores and see the football results, particularly those of his beloved Wolverhampton Wanderers who he was so pleased had gained promotion to the Premier League for the 2018-19 season.
I considered it a great privilege to be invited to John’s 100th birthday party which took place in February 2017. By then after 71 years of marriage he was a widower and had gone to live at Forest Place, the residential home in Buckhurst Hill. The number of people present and all the cards and good wishes John received spoke volumes for the high esteem in which he was held by everyone who knew him. He and Olive were lovely people and truly an example to us all.