John attended Peppard Primary School from 1964 when he was four years old until 1971 when he left to go to Chiltern Edge. In those days there was still a 13+ examination, which John passed enabling him to go on to attend Henley Grammar School.
Those early schooldays he remembers as idyllic. The family lived in Grange Avenue and, indeed, his father, now almost 90, still lives in the same house. John walked to school every day, returned home for lunch and then spent his evenings playing football with his pals on the common.
John’s father ran the Peppard under-11s football team which played on the common – this later turned into Rotherfield United Football Club and moved to the Bishopswood Sports Ground where it is still thriving. The club colours were black and gold – the kit was bought by parents and the colours were chosen because that was what was available at discounted prices!
After leaving school, he joined the Ford Motor Company as a graduate mechanical engineer and went on to work for them for 32 years. Whilst at Ford, he completed an MBA (Master of Business Administration) from Henley Management College. At Ford he led teams to develop new cars and trucks and subsequently introduced them to international markets—both existing and new. This meant travelling far and wide and spending extended periods abroad.
Working for Ford meant a move to Essex – Ford’s main UK base with several sites, including their large Dunton Engineering Centre. John has lived for many years in Felsted, a pretty village in north Essex that was mentioned in the Domesday Book. Here he and his wife, Caroline, settled and brought up two children who are now adult. His son is married and lives in East London and works for Google; they have recently produced John and Caroline’s first grandson, Teddy, giving them much joy. His daughter, an orthopaedic surgeon, is also married and lives in Bristol.
From 2000-2010, John worked at Ford’s European HQ in Cologne, Germany. But with a growing family of school-age children, he opted to live in Cologne city centre during the week and return to Felsted at the weekends. This instilled in him a passion for a combination of city and country living, something that he maintains to this day. Caroline is still working full time at IBM and primarily from London, consequently they are lucky enough to enjoy the benefits of their house in the Essex countryside and also use their flat near the Barbican in the City of London, to make the most of local cinema, theatre, concert halls, galleries and restaurants. Caroline also sings in the LSO Community Choir.
For the last five years of full-time working, John has been a consultant for Ernst & Young LLP, advising clients on issues relating to the motor industry. He still works in this capacity, but now on a part-time basis as he looks to devote more time to other challenges.
With more free time, he is now able to use his knowledge to good effect – he is the director of a couple of charities specialising in transport and energy projects in Africa. He can also indulge his passion for designing and building things. In his garden, he has converted an old barn into a workshop, where he produces wooden furniture for the family and friends.
John often returns to Peppard – usually to help his father, or to see his three sisters, who still live locally.
John and Caroline both love the great outdoors and are very active – be that walking or skiing in the Alps or walking the coastal path in Cornwall or South Wales. When the pandemic is eventually over, they are looking forward to an extended trip to New Zealand. Let’s hope that they don’t have to wait too long!