When we moved to Woodbridge in 1996 the first friends we made were John and Jenny. We met at Woodbridge Cruising Club; they owned a huge vessel (a 26ft Westerly Centaur) called “Flora” whilst we newbies had a tiddler of a trailer-sailer.
For the next few years we often sailed in company. Not only was this great fun, but we also learnt a great deal from John. We were delighted to travel to Dieppe in 1998 to help John (Jenny had returned to work) sail “Flora” back to Suffolk
His respect for the sea and his careful and meticulous attention to detail on board taught us the importance of detailed planning and full concentration whilst under way. He was also an adventurous sailor: he skippered his yachts to the Channel Islands, to Southern Brittany, to Cornwall, to the Baltic, and crossed the Channel on many occasions.
During the long winter months we met regularly for meals and good conversation. John was a great storyteller and raconteur and also loved to listen to other peoples’ anecdotes. Some of these were directed at “Scrounger” the stuffed cat at Seckford Street, sometimes after a glass of wine had been consumed. The story he told with the punch line “Wrong Answer!” has subsequently been used regularly in our household (many of you may remember this story of John’s). His memories referring to his Norfolk upbringing, always laced with a very broad and accurate King’s Lynn accent, were wonderful.
We will miss him.
Martin Oldfield and Judy Buchanan