Tribute: John Junkin

It was with great sadness that we heard of the death of John Junkin on 7 March. John Junkin was well known to lovers of comedy the length and breadth of the land. Before he came to Wendover he was a familiar face on television but his greatest successes had always been as a writer. We were privileged to enjoy his company in his twilight.

When he first arrived in Wendover, in 1990, he quickly joined in village life. He was often seen in local hostelries and enjoyed sharing banter with anyone. He was engaging company, a raconteur and fund of reminiscences of people he had met during a long and varied career in showbiz. As a purveyor of oral history he will be sadly missed. The group of people he most often entertained were the self styled Six O’Clock Club.

John Junkin was always a ready wit and very happy to oblige with a few words whether at a village function in Wendover Memorial Hall, as MC at the Cricket Club or introducing a well known personality at the former Red Lion Sports Club. He was drawn in to the Cricket Club 200 Club by the fondly remembered Ken Donald. When Wendover Village Quiz started in 1992 Wendover Cricket Club entered several teams, one from the 200 club. The long name alone was a challenge to most question masters and John enjoyed the confusion, along with team members Vicky Ross-Weir and Clive Brazier. John was a voracious reader and a frequent visitor to Wendover Library. He could finish The Guardian crossword in 15 minutes. This made him an invaluable team member whether on the television or in Wendover Village Quiz! Later on this successful team acquired a “Manager” in the form of Leslie Smith and went on to win the Quiz in 1993.

Some comedy writers are not spontaneous funny men but John Junkin was a consummate live comedian, too. He accompanied Wendover Cricket Club on a jaunt to Tring one day. The coach journey was all of 20 minutes but by the end of it, John had composed 5 hilarious Limericks on random subjects put to him by his companions. Here was daily evidence of his way with words and he also thoroughly enjoyed puzzles and conundrums.

John Junkin also enjoyed music. He was an expert on classic pre-war musicals, Cole Porter being his hero.

John’s daughter Annabel attended local primary and secondary schools and the Rozelle School of Dance and Drama. John was a familiar sight sitting in the foyer of Wendover Memorial Hall with the other parents waiting for his daughter to come out of classes.

Sadly, John’s health deteriorated badly overt the last five years or so and his reduced mobility was particularly vexing for him. He was in hospital frequently and always spoke highly of the care and attention he received at Stoke Mandeville Hospital. He died in Florence Nightingale House which is why Annabel has asked that if any one would like to make a gesture, donations should be made to Florence Nightingale House.

Amersham crematorium was packed for the funeral on Tuesday 14 March. The atmosphere was full of fun and three eulogies were given: Graham Evans, founder member of the Sports Club; Tony Christie of “Amarillo” fame and Dave Lee Travers, the well known DJ. The applause for each echoed inside the building. Then everyone retired to the King and Queen where more good memories were exchanged. John had an excellent send off.