Tribute: John Michael Cockle
John was a Wendover resident his entire life. Born in 1941, he grew up in the King and Queen Pub, owned by his parents Edward and Clarissa. John spent his childhood helping out in the pub and working at the garage next door, also owned by his parents. Edward Cockle made and sold Italian homemade ice-cream from the premises and it is believed the pub had the first colour television in Wendover!
John attended Mrs Baldwin’s Nursery School (South Street), Coniston House School (Dobbins Lane) and Wendover C of E School, which in those days was situated by the Clock Tower. At some point over the last 10 years, John reflected on his childhood walk to school and recorded his memories – these will be published in a future edition.
John spent his youth in the village with his good childhood pals, Derek Firmin, Brian Price and Brian Simmons, and all remained good friends. John was a keen magician and fire-eater and records show he performed at many a party in Bucks, when he would entertain his audience with an array of tricks, illusions and puppetry.
St Mary’s Church also played an important role in John’s life. He was confirmed in the Church, was choirboy and sacristan for many years and prepared the Easter Garden and the Nativity Crib. It was here, in 1965, that John married his childhood sweetheart, Josephine Bollard. Josephine had arrived in Wendover from Singapore when her father was posted to Halton RAF Camp and, once married, the couple remained inseparable sharing in the trials and tribulations of life step by step with each other.
John left school in 1956, aged 15, when he started working for the BBC in the Publication Department based in central London. Whilst John enjoyed the job, he realised he still preferred the countryside to the smoky city and after a year, took up work as a painter/decorator for local companies (Langfords and Newgate). John loved this work and always regaled people he chatted to with tales of workplace mischief with Fred Wood and Bob Barrett.
Three children arrived in quick succession for John and Josie (Jane, Susan and Ted) and John was then encouraged to seek alternative employment. He secured work with Bucks County Council, Aylesbury Rural District Council and Aylesbury Vale District Council, where John stayed for 33 years until his retirement in 2003. With his three children all attending Wendover C of E Junior School, John also took on the role as Parent Governor when Ivor Pammenter was Head Teacher and as with all things, John took this role very seriously.
As well as the King and Queen, John and his family lived at 22 The Cedars, 12 St Anne’s Close, 2 Vicarage Close before finally settling at 3 Liffré Drive in 1984. Throughout, John remained a dedicated husband, dad and grampy. He was never jealous or envious. He never spoke badly of anyone and delighted in everyone else’s good fortune. He was a man of simple tastes. He loved a good meal out, a stay in the West Country, a ridiculously clean car, a striped lawn, a newspaper to read and a walk around the village catching up with people he knew. He was the Wendover oracle and for some, a ‘local hero’. His family and grandchildren mattered most to him, and if they were happy, so was John.
Written by John’s familyat the request of Wendover News.
John’s family found some notes written by him about his childhood in Wendover. To read them, click here.