I never came away from a meeting with John without feeling that I had been in the presence of a good, kind and able Christian gentleman. John was gracious, outgoing and cheerful, and there was always a twinkle in his eye. He had a wonderful sense of humour. He was extremely knowledgeable, and a shrewd and perceptive judge of character. His knowledge and love of India and Bangladesh was deep and comprehensive, and he had many friends there.
Johns whole way of life sprang from his Christian faith. He had a deep but simple faith, which showed itself in his happy family life, his high standards of personal conduct, his commitment to his church, and his generosity to causes which were dear to his heart. He stood for the traditional values of truth, honour, integrity, generous thought and courtesy.
He was a truly Christian gentleman.
My earliest memory of John is a little vague, but when I was at Behala in 1966/67 and used to drive the boys on the bread round in Calcutta delivering bread made at Behala from American-donated wheat, we called on one occasion at Johns house where the boys were hospitably entertained - and the air conditioning was a big bonus!
However, most of my memories relate to his chairmanship of the UK committee, first in London at the Missions to Seamen, and latterly at his own house in Winchester. He combined a great love of the Mission and its work, good knowledge of India, a light touch on the tiller and a sense of humour to make the meetings run smoothly and good-naturedly. This was helped not least by his provision of liquid refreshment to go with our sandwich lunches. I am privileged to have taken over from him and have endeavoured to follow his example. His loyalty to the OM demonstrated by the fact that he continued to attend our meetings right up to the end.
I have one disappointment which is that I was only able to play croquet with him on his lawn on one occasion. It is a pity that the committee meetings did not take place in high summer!
He was very proud of having been a school boy at Winchester College and regretted that so few old boys had been ordained. He had worked in commerce in India for many years and this enabled him to see things from a different perspective from most of the Committee. The meetings which he hosted in his lovely house were always delightful. He will be greatly missed.
We met John and Gillie when my husband and I moved to Winchester in 1978, and we became friends at once. John often talked to us about the Oxford Mission, and when, in 1985, the Editor of the then quarterly paper died, he asked me if I would like to take over. I had some editorial experience and accepted eagerly. I did the job for the next 20 years, and John, with his enthusiasm and long association with the OM, was endlessly supportive and helpful. He took me with him in 1989 on a visit to the compounds, and it made a tremendous difference to me to see the work, and to meet some of the old Fathers and Sisters. I loved it all.
An excellent and knowledgeable Chairman of the UK Committee, Johns humour and charm enlivened our meetings especially in the later years when they took place in his house in Winchester, and wine was generously provided. John was an outstanding person and a good friend. He supported many other causes as well as the Mission which he served so well and faithfully. May he rest in peace.
I first met John when he visited Calcutta in the 80s when I was District High Commissioner. At that time , he was keen to recommend Sister Florence for an honour. I was impressed by him, and glad, in due course, to join the Committee which he ably chaired.
It has been a real privilege to have known John as a friend over many years. He always welcomed and lovingly greeted me every time I met him. He was large of heart and of great understanding in personal ways and especially in his deep Christian commitment to the work God had called him to do as Chairman of the Oxford Mission committee. I thank my God upon every reminder of him (Philippians 1; verse 3 (paraphrased)).
I met John when I became the editor of the OM magazine and my first impression was of a friendly, cheerful man with a wonderful sense of humour and a deep Christian faith. These impressions never changed. He will be greatly missed by everyone.