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Barrow Voice is published by Barrow upon Soar Community Association. Opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed by the editorial committee or the Community Association.

Barrow Community Association is a registered Charity No: 505692.
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Feature

A Tribute to John Wilford
“What a smashing bloke”

“An exceptional man”

“A staunch English Yeoman”

These were the closing words that were used by John’s brother-in-law in his tribute to John and I am quite sure that everyone who knew him would totally agree with these sentiments.

John’s friends described him in so many ways, as was evident from the hundreds of cards that Sue received. He was thought of as: a team player, leg puller, true friend, enricher of others’ lives, real inspiration, dear man, energetic, with canny wisdom, singer of fantastic camp fire songs, skilled craftsman, infectious, a man of dignity and great humanity - full of life and joy and so many more.

The rich tapestry described will be a long lasting memorial to a special person who touched the lives of all the generations of our village. I suspect that few others over the years will have made that kind of impact, whether towards the young, the youth, the families or the elderly.

Born in Loughborough, John moved to Barrow at the age of one with his parents Frank and Min, as Frank took up management of Hills Grocery on South Street. John grew up with sister Ann and brother Barry. He went to school in Barrow and left Humphrey Perkins with two ‘O’ levels. Neither was woodwork, which he failed. His woodwork teacher is said to have remarked that John would never make the grade in that area!

He began his work career when he took an apprenticeship at Schofields (builders) and in 12 years he moved from joiner apprentice, through setting out, to become General Manager of Schofields Joinery. When Schofields closed, John joined Chithams as Joinery Manager and on their demise moved to Glenlion in Newark. In 1984 with the closure of that firm he made the decision to become self employed, a decision that is evident in so many homes in our village and area.

As a young man he met Sue, dancing in Loughborough on Saturday nights, John was a mover and a groover! There were many nights he had to walk home to Barrow, having missed Howletts last bus! They were married in July 1967 at Emmanuel Church in Loughborough. First Ian and then Neil were born, two sons of whom he was very proud.

It was not just what John did but who he was, typically calling out to old friends, chatting on the street or teasing youngsters in their failure to support his beloved ‘City’.

He was passionate about the Scouting movement and his love of Scouting was a life long devotion. This included many hours spent with Cub Scouts, Beavers, Venture Scouts and Girls Brigade. He invested huge amounts of time, skill and energy in the fabric and care of the Scout headquarters here and abroad.

Barrow is a community that is impregnated with John’s energy and enthusiasm and his involvement in the many groups and clubs reflects this fact, for example the Beveridge Club, for whom he was a trustee and the Marans Twinning Group of which he was a cofounder. He was a local historian and many people proudly own a copy of Bygone Barrow or attended one of John’s slide shows. John was a local JP and Humphrey Perkins School has benefited from John’s work at the school with their court teams. He was the Number One Leicester City fan!

His time as a Scouting sailing instructor was a real pleasure both for John and the many young people he taught. Saturday afternoons spent at Wanlip throughout the summer months were fun, informative and usually very wet! Recently a new dinghy was launched, called the Wandering Wilford and the photograph shows this day and epitomises John as the action man that he was.

Whether we remind ourselves of his close involvement with Sue and Ian with the Peter Le Marchant Trust, or describe his input at Ian’s bungalow in Leicester or think about his commitment and connection with anything and everything ‘Barrow’, we come to the same conclusion.

John Wilford - Simply the best.

Most of this tribute is adapted from the eulogy written by Tony Childs, brother in law to John.