I first met John in early spring of 2013 as he collected me from Gatwick airport one dark and wet morning. I had never presented a book to a customer in my life, and I was hoping to get some pointers from the guy that had been doing it for years.
I remember our first call well; it was to Norman Nibbloe, in Tunbridge. Not Tunbridge Wells as John pointedly told me. We spent two days travelling round the South Coast and then into London. John was fairly quiet on day one, but by the second day we were chatting and laughing away in the car. When he dropped me off, late afternoon at the airport on the third day, he turned to me and said, that he quite enjoyed the last few days. He then told me how he had been dreading someone from the office coming down to watch him at work. It certainly wasn’t for anything he had to hide, but despite being an excellent salesman John was quiet, private, and always played down his own abilities.
We next met later that year at a conference, both of us behind the Christian Focus table. I was overwhelmed by the number of customers who came to tell me how much they enjoyed John’s visits and how lucky we were to have him; many coming saying it when he was standing next to me. John, being John, was slightly embarrassed to be publicly praised and the centre of attention.
As the years passed John and I became more than colleagues; I came to view him as a good friend. Time together was spent laughing (he always had a really bad joke of the day) and putting the world to rights.
John liked his Americana, lunches and dinner would be at a Ben and Jerry’s or when in Chester, it would be Hickory’s Smokehouse; where we would tackle big platters together. John loved books, his family, and his Saviour.
He took great joy in telling me the latest new thing that one of the children were doing, whether it was work, academic, in leisure or in entrepreneurship, he always wanted what was best for them all.
Then one year ago everything changed, I remember settling into my chair at the office in the morning and Willie telling me the awful news, nobody could believe it: we still can’t. I don’t think you realise how much a person means to you or does for you until they are no longer there. For months afterwards I’d still be saying, “I’ll get John to do that”. Then reality would kick in.
I don’t think I’ll ever manage to have the knowledge that John had for all that we have published over the years, but I’ll try and if I could get half the affection that CFP customers felt for him, I’d be happy.
Susan’s recalling of John’s last written words were so befitting of him and his love for Jesus, that keeps us in the knowledge of where his eternal home is, but his memory and spirit will be in our hearts for many years to come.
Psalm 107 v 30
Sales Manager CFP