POLE: Lion John

Witney Lions Club.

It is with great sadness that we have to report the passing of Lion John at the age of 82 after a short stay in hospital. Although his health had started to deteriorate, his passing was unexpected.

John joined Lions in January 1997 and had been a Lion for 22 years. To show his immediate commitment to Witney Lions and the Lionistic principles, he volunteered to be our President after only 4 months when we had been unable to find a member to take on that position for the next Lionistic year. Although he asked for assistance through his year, he very soon proved to be a very able and conscientious President and a credit to our Club and required very little guidance. He also took on the role of President again in 2011 and again proved to be a very able leader of the Club.

John was interested in, and spent most of his time, on the Fundraising side of our activities. He was always full of ideas of how we could raise funds and was definitely a “hands-on” Lion, be it helping to erect our marquees, carving and cooking on our pig roast at the Witney Carnival – (which we organised with our partners, Rotary, Round Table and the ATC), or any other fundraising events we were involved. He was always one of the first to volunteer to assist in any way he could.  He was a magnificent Father Christmas during our month-long street and static collections in December. He really looked the part with his own magnificent costume and a massive (false) beard and gold rim glasses. The children loved seeing and talking to him – and he took time talking to them all and really made them feel that each one was important to him. Once, a child pulled off his beard as he did not believe in the magic of Christmas and so John, not wanting to disappoint any other child in the future ensured that his beard was then securely attached to a skull cap hidden under his hood, making it impossible to be removed – we tried!

Over the years John had also been involved with organising some of the club’s social events. Those who went on the weekend away he organised in London will never forget it. With his meticulous planning, we had a good hotel, a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace, a theatre trip to see “Billy Elliot”, a meal in Chinatown, a ride on the London Eye, and the pleasure of his company and being told many stories of his time in the Metropolitan Police including the “Dead Ants” antics.  ( his ex-colleagues will know exactly what that entailed, and it once caused John some embarrassment when this happened whilst he was escorting a senior Police officer from a Foreign Country!). Latterly John, ably supported by Val, took over the organising of our Christmas Collection rotas – no mean feat – and also organised the Dream Scheme campaign after Peter Lovell had to step down due to ill health. John was a committed Lion, liked by everyone, and was always considerate and caring in whatever he did.  He will be greatly missed.