Scouting was Sidmouth John's life

PUBLISHED: 16:03 16 October 2009 | UPDATED: 10:40 18 June 2010

RELATIVES and friends celebrated the life of John Pickering at Sidmouth Methodist Church on Wednesday. Mr Pickering, 87, from Roselands, died at home on Friday, October 2.

RELATIVES and friends celebrated the life of John Pickering at Sidmouth Methodist Church on Wednesday.

Mr Pickering, 87, from Roselands, died at home on Friday, October 2. He leaves three sons, 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

He and wife Lois, 83, moved to Sidmouth from West Hill nine years ago, soon becoming involved with local organisations, including the Royal British Legion's annual Poppy Appeal.

At 17, John joined the British India Steam Navigation Company during the war as a Merchant Navy cadet and served in India for five years, transporting fuel and supplies to the army in Burma.

"He became a third navigating officer and was going to stay until he met me, then he didn't want to go back into the Navy," said Lois.

The couple married in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, in June 1949 and celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary this year with a family tea at the Belmont Hotel.

Born in Whetstone, North London, John joined Eagle Star marine insurance after leaving the Merchant Navy in 1947.

Later he helped his brother market a specially-shaped child's drinking cup, before he became a rep for Falcon Cycles.

He was chairman of Barnet Round Table and he and Lois spent much of their married life at Brookmans Park, Herts, bringing up three sons, Nigel, Kevin and Clive - who now lives in Australia.

Lois said: "When John enrolled our eldest son in cubs he offered to help out for a couple of hours once a week. He stayed 27 years."

He received a Medal of Merit for his scouting work in 1972, topped by a Silver Acorn in 1985 for specially-distinguished services as group scout leader of 2nd Hatfield and 1st Brookmans Park groups.

In honour of his service to scouting, "which was his life," said daughter-in-law Angela, John and Lois were invited to a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.

On retiring to West Hill John founded a Short Mat Bowls Club and was its chairman for two years.

Both were life members of Sid Vale Association and Sidmouth Victoria Hospital Comforts Fund and helped with Sidmouth in Bloom.

A member of the now defunct Burma Star Association, John was a volunteer buggy driver at the National Trust's Killerton House and a hospital car transport driver in Ottery St Mary.

Former scouting colleague, Joy Hughes, said: "John was loved by all who knew him and held him in great esteem, both as a friend and a scouter. He gave so much of himself to scouting."

The Reverend Ken Crooks conducted the thanksgiving service which followed private cremation at Exeter.

At the service Richard Waring, Sidmouth RBL vice-chairman, paid tribute. A poem written by Maxine Kershaw was also read.

Two of John's 10 grandchildren - Mark and Jack - also paid tribute along with scouting friend Bill Turner.

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