My oldest friend from child hood passed away in his sleep on Good Friday. He was 62.
John introduced me to our sport in 1961, when he was 6 and I was 9. As “scraggy assed kids” we grew up together 100 yards from Fleetwood Lake on Manor Road. That introduction led to a lifetime of friendship and camaraderie that would last a lifetime. As kids we would race with boat owners, skippers, as their “mates” but we soon had our own Marbleheads & we were able to race as skippers ourselves. We raced many events in all classes & eventually r/c came along & we both got involved.
We were fortunate to be at the famous 1984 New Forrest RM Nationals. This event was famous for many reasons. First Torvald Klem from Norway became the first Non British winner of our Nationals. Second Roger Stollery (who places 2nd in the event) introduced the “Swing Rig” to the class. And Third, this was Graham Bantock’s first radio Nationals. He placed 26th. Brooky & I did somewhat better finishing 3rd & 5th respectively. But John’s favourite boat to race was always the A class. He raced many A class Championships both at Fleetwood & Gosport with boats he built himself, the most famous being a “Stollery Lollipop” “Dear Prudence” and whilst never quite winning the ultimate prize, the Scrutton Cup, he managed on 3 occasions to win the YM cup, the final time only last year when he & I teamed up with my boat which we re-named for the event “ 2 old rockers”. By the end of the week we were 2 old Knackers!!
In his youth, John left school and couldn’t wait to get to sea. This he did, as most Fleetwood people, by becoming a Trawler man. But, as John was quite a clever bloke, he was not just a deck hand or even an engineer; he became at age 19 the youngest “Mate” (or first officer) in the industry in the port of Fleetwood. But after the Cod Wars and the decline in deep water trawling from the big fishing ports, many trawler men became un-employed so John and his wife started a fish selling business. This was very successful and was subsequently sold, and John bought a 25 foot grp hull and built an inshore fishing boat which he named after his favourite Trawler “Wyre Conqueror”
Subsequently John & his wife divorced and the boat had to be sold. John then spent time working on a Dredger in Liverpool bay before leaving the sea & becoming shore based as a Coastguard in Aberdeen. But the travelling got too much & again he changed direction. This time he worked in an Inland Revenue call centre helping people with their tax queries. Very fitting as one of his A boats had been named “Taxman”!!
After racing in the A nationals 2 years ago John was found to have mouth cancer. But he was successfully operated on and once again the sea was calling so he bought a small boat, in need of some work as a project for himself. He gradually bought the bits he needed and was in the process of doing the renovation, having just changed the engine, when he sadly passed away.
Sail well & rest in peace John.
From your old friend