John Wilson 1942 – 2017

John was a man it is not easy to forget. He was intelligent, funny, gregarious, quick witted, willing to help anyone.

He was born in Hereford into a prosperous family whose business he was expected to join, but the conventional life was not for John. On leaving school he wanted adventure, so he travelled Europe on his motor bike arriving, eventually, in Brighton. In the 1970s and 80s he lived in Buckingham Street with his wife, Frances.

Those of you who remember the early days of the West Hill Community Association will have encountered him working enthusiastically for the cause. In 1978 he was Treasurer of WHCA, while Frances was Hall Bookings Secretary in 1979.

Before bookings could be taken, however, the Hall had to be made fit for purpose. The building was in poor condition when the Church handed over control of bookings to WHCA, and it was John who helped with its renovation. A group of young offenders doing community service worked on the refurbishment with John officially their supervisor, but typically working alongside them. He was closely involved with the Association until he and Frances left for the Sudan (1981 – 84) to teach English, living happily with the Sudanese on subsistence wages, no concessions being made to their position.

On their return John worked as a supply teacher, greatly in demand because of his ability to turn his hand to anything and especially for the way he engaged with pupils. He liked young people and they respected him.

The Pickett brothers, who had their workshop in West Hill Road, remember John for his involvement with the speed trials on Madeira Drive and for his love of old cars and motorbikes; those of you living in Buckingham Street may remember that too. When his garage was sold to developers, he transferred his workshop to his dining room to the quiet dismay of Frances and the great delight of any young person visiting them. He was a regular at the Battle of Trafalgar and at The Edinburgh on quiz nights.

In 1999 the Wilsons left Brighton for the tiny hamlet of Old Leake in Lincolnshire where John could indulge his passion for his collection of cars and bikes. He had garages, a shed, a workshop and parking, plus a large garden and a dog but he would come back to Brighton whenever he could.

Ann Smith


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