Barrow Voice -
First Publised 1975
3,000 copies published quarterly and delivered FREE to all households in Barrow upon Soar

John Thursby celebrates 90 years: a true Mover and Shaker for Barrow

John celebrated this wonderful milestone in early March with a big party, where else but in Barrow’s Methodist Church. I fi rst came into contact with John in the early days of 1970. There was a move afoot to create a Barrow Community Association based in Humphrey Perkins School, which would itself be transformed into a Community Centre. John was a very strong and active supporter of the notion and helped to turn the dream into reality.

John grew up in Peterborough but after National Service he came to Loughborough College to study electrical engineering. His first job was in Chelmsford (Essex) where he met Joan. He told me that initially he wasn’t interested because he already had a steady girlfriend. Somehow he found himself teaching Joan to drive, she passed fi rst time, and…the rest is history.

John and Joan married in 1956 in Chelmsford. He commuted daily to London where he worked for Hawker Siddeley. When they merged with Brush, John moved to Loughborough, travelling home for weekends to Chelmsford on the M1. John remembers that the M1 in those days had no speed limits, no central reservation or crash barriers and no lighting. Joan came to join him in 1968 and they moved into a four-year old house on the new Thirlmere estate; the house that is their home today.

Barrow’s Methodist Church has been the centre of John’s life. He says he has carried out every possible church job apart from teaching and standing in for the minister. I negotiated with him when a group of mums were starting up Barrow Playgroup in 1971. I remember him showing me the row of outdoor toilets – much to my disbelief.

John was also a Parish Councillor for many years. He remembers the stand that the Parish Council made against a potential developer who wanted to build houses on the King George V playing field. Tempers got very frayed but the PC was successful. He has also been involved in the management of Gray’s Court on North Street and a trustee of the Men’s Almshouse on Church Street. He collected the weekly rents and oversaw the maintenance of the property – not glamorous jobs but they needed doing.

When Barrow had the opportunity to develop its own < leicestershirevillages > website in 2003, John joined the team that encouraged village community groups to build their own pages. You can see that John is a very positive supporter and do-er of new initiatives. Joan and John have two children, Annie and Philip, and four grandchildren. I think of John as a humorous person, always smiling and laughing. Annie, his daughter, agreed and told me a family joke about John which also refl ected his very practical approach to problems. She said, “Dad always stored items that 'might come in useful' and we teased him about how full the garage was. When I was at university I bought a secondhand hoover but it had no tools. On a visit home I told Dad who said 'just a minute' and disappeared into the garage. About half an hour later he emerged triumphantly holding a set of tools for my hoover!“

My recent contact with John typifies his sense of responsibility. For a very long time he was in charge of arranging the delivery of Barrow Voice (right from the beginning when BV was one sheet of A4 cyclostyled on both sides). Even after others took this over, he still did a big delivery of magazines on the Thirlmere estate. When the weekend arrived for the delivery of this last March edition, the weather was atrocious: wet and windy on Saturday and heavy snow on Sunday. Was John deterred? No, of course not. Fortunately, a neighbour noticed him out in all this mayhem and insisted on taking over the delivery – permanently. Even John agreed that, at 90, perhaps he could put his feet up and let others do the job.

Thank you John!
Judith Rodgers