Tribute: John Thompson

Some people just can’t help making a difference in our lives by simply being who they are. They make the world a little brighter, a little warmer, a little gentler and when they are gone we realise how lucky we are to have known them.

Benjamin ‘John’ Thompson was born on the 23rd November 1943 in Narbeth, Pembrokeshire. John and his four brothers, brought up on a farm on the coast of west Wales, speaking Welsh, with English being his second language taught at school.

Having seen his older brother join the police force, John new his future also lay in uniform. At the age of 15, having received an acceptance note from the RAF to become a boy entrant, he set off to Fishguard train station in 1959 destined to RAF Hereford.

He loved his sports and became a boxer and never lost a fight! But he adored football and became a football referee.

John met Helen, a Princess Mary’s RAF nurse in 1971 whilst based at Cosford. They were married in 1973 in Scotland and in 1975 their son, Gareth was born. The young family settled in Wendover by the time Lorna was born in 1977. The family was complete with daughter Moira arriving in 1982. John retired from the RAF after 25 years service and the family relocated to their forever home in Bryants Acre.

John worked for many years at Askeys as a production supervisor until a change to the shift system was difficult to adjust to with his young family. He then worked for Leyland DAF and latterly he was a controller in the office at City Sprint where he continued to work until he was 68.

John though did not live to work, but very much had his family and his interests at the heart of everything. John played darts all of his adult life and once living in Wendover, he played for the Marquis of Granby pub before playing for the British Legion. John was Chairman of the Wendover darts league for over 20 years.

Helen and John enjoyed spending time at their allotment. John, more for the social side. He was a great story teller, and throughout his life people loved to hear his tales being told in his Welsh accent.

John would continue refereeing semi-professional clubs, mainly within the Spartan South Midlands league where he was an active member and became a match official assessor following his first kidney transplant nearly 13 years ago.

John could organise things really well. He became Chairman of the the Wendover British Legion club and the Branch, breathing new life into its activities and support for the Wendover Poppy Appeal. John was responsible for raising over £100,000 during his 20-year tenure.

John was so proud of organising and participating in the Remembrance parades, although 2018 was the first year he was not present.

Health issues never stopped John from having a loving relationship with his grandchildren Max, Romy and Bella. They called him Datcu which means Grandad in Welsh. Their bond was so strong and he thought the world of them and would talk about their exploits to anyone and everyone! John had a natural knack of striking up conversation, making people feel at ease and took a real interest in other people.

Due to his Poly-Cystic Kidney disease issues compounded in the last few years but John never complained. He did not have a negative bone in his body. John received his second transplant in June 2019. Due to acute infections he spent many weeks on Wytham ward at the Churchill hospital in Oxford which is where he passed away on the 16th of December 2019, at the age of 76.

Kind donations are going equally to The Wendover Poppy Appeal and the Wytham Ward Kidney fund in memory of John. The family would like to thank the staff at the hospital for the incredible care and support they gave to John and the family. They showed amazing compassion and humanity; and truly are special people.

The Legion Club portion of this tribute (below) was unfortunately not able to be included in print, due to space limitations.

John Thompson had been involved in the Wendover Royal British Legion, and Branch, for at least 25 years before I became involved. He had spent time as the Club Chairman, and also was an ever present member of the committee, in an advisory capacity, when his tenure as chairman finished.

As anyone who knew John would attest, he was the most supportive, knowledgeable, and just plain lovely man to be around. Since my time as club chairman began, John gave invaluable insight and advice, which has enabled us on the committee, to realign the club, and advance into this new period with a strong base to enable the continued use for the community. Quite literally, I don’t believe that the Legion Club would still be here if it wasn’t for John’s input, at a time when clubs were closing all around. His understanding of business, and how an institution like the club needed to be run, were key! He spent countless hours in a voluntary capacity to further the cause, and this is never seen by the majority of people…. We who are at the club now, will miss him terribly, but we are determined to keep his legacy in good hands. I personally have only benefitted from all of my time with John, and am proud to know he was a friend. Even with all of the deserved credit for what John achieved in his service to Queen and country, and the British Legion, I think his outlook on life, and the way that he treated everybody with courtesy, stand testament to this fine man!

Barry Evans (Legion Club Wendover) Chairman