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JohnCancer Research UK
- St Mary's Church Church Street Sturminster Marshall BH21 4BU
- 4th Jan 2019
- Funeral Director
- Nicholas O’Hara Funeral Directors Ltd, Wimborne
John was born in Wheatley Hills, South Yorkshire in 1936, and brought up in a loving home by his Auntie Edith and Uncle George. From an early age he was fascinated by bulldozers, tipper trucks, lorries, cars and trains - anything mechanical. He was often to be found hanging around building sites as a child (even cadging rides from the workmen on occasion), happily watching everything that was going on there, while his pals would be off kicking a ball about.
He attended Wheatley Hills Secondary Modern school, then went on to study engineering, his passion. During this time he started working part time at Cuttriss, a well known model making shop in Doncaster - a dream job for a young boy with such an interest in machinery and engines. He was clearly suited to engineering, as he was soon offered an apprenticeship in that field, becoming a skilled tool maker.
He initially worked for International Harvester, before moving on to the fuel industry, firstly with Esso, and then Conoco. His dream was to learn to fly though, and he was lucky enough to have his first flying lesson in 1983 - after which he was immediately hooked. He went on to train at East Midlands Flying School, where he quickly passed all his exams, then put his new qualifications to good use by teaching at the ground school - being paid with more flying hours, until he became a fully qualified pilot.
John married the love of his life, Dena, in 1973. They moved to Staffordshire together, and John suddenly found himself Step-Dad to a ready made family of Dena’s three children, which he took completely in his stride. The patient manner and cool head that he would later use when instructing future pilots, was first put to the test when he taught all three of them to drive. John’s world was complete when Dena gave birth to Daniel, their much loved son, who kept them both young and active, spending summer holidays mountain biking together in the hills of the Greek islands.
In 1991, John was finally offered a job as a commercial pilot, a dream come true for him, but unfortunately the offer had to be withdrawn when the company realised he was beyond the legal age for single crew at 55 years old. Undaunted, he decided to use his skills to teach others, and became a flying instructor at Manston. However, he was soon poached by a rival flying school at Bournemouth International Airport, where he continued to instruct. In early 1997 he made the local papers after he safely made an emergency landing in a single-engined Cherokee aircraft on farm land. He and his pupil ‘walked away without a scratch’ after the engine failed; John modestly said that he 'simply followed routine procedures’ - the paper reported that he was an ‘Ice-cool pilot’.
Later that year, John and Dena found themselves moving to a brand new house in the lovely village of Sturminster Marshall to facilitate John’s new post. Almost immediately he was told that there was an opportunity for a three month detachment to a flying school in Florida. So, before they could even decide on colour schemes and flooring, John and Dena were heading off for an exciting new challenge in the sun. Their three month adventure turned into a stay of fifteen months. John continued his flying career teaching students back in UK until, due to health reasons, he was no longer able to pilot a plane and he instructed in a simulator instead.
When he finally retired, John utilised the model building skills he’d honed in his earlier life on a full scale project: he built a beautiful Cobra sports car (completely from what he would call that marvellous ingredient, ‘Scratch’). He and Dena could sometimes be seen cruising along the country lanes of Dorset in it, although the process of actually building the car was more fulfilling to John than driving it. After it was sold, he promptly set about building another - a Westfield sports car this time.
We will remember John every time we hear a corny joke - he would often come out with the words ‘You might have heard this before, but...’ and then regale us with his latest amusing quip. We’ll also think of him when we get the board games out - he would only join in reluctantly on very rare occasions, they were definitely not his cup of tea - but he would be quite content to watch the Tour de France (and any other cycle race) on TV for hours, another of his passions.
Rest in peace John, you will be sadly missed by many.
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Offline donation: donated in memory of John
Offline donation: donated in memory of John
Unique to John's memory, a beautifully printed A4 hardback memorial bookFind out more