My Memories of John

By Tom Russell

I first met John when I joined SCoM in 2003. We both used to go to “Ski fit” circuit training evenings which he attended regularly and where he worked hard. He would drive there in his immaculate sports car, a Mazda MX5 if I remember correctly, which he loved.

At that time John used to organise members’ ski training at the Chill Factore, sending emails to recruit those wanting to attend, and was always there to book them in.

Organising the skiing holidays was another of John’s responsibilities as a SCoM committee member. He had a good set of links into the travel industry to expedite that task, and we all benefited from his hard work. These links came to my rescue the time he helped me when I couldn’t get travel insurance due to an undiagnosed health condition. His recommended insurer provided cover after a single phone call.

On holidays he was always ready to help new members and would find them skiing groups to suit their abilities. In the bar he was always a raconteur with lots of entertaining stories, some of them being recounted in the wee small hours. I remember him taking pictures of me skiing (badly) at Fernie, and he sent them to me after the holiday. I still cringe when I see how far I was leaning back in them.

He and I were part of a group who used to email jokes and interesting links with one another; some of the jokes were, perhaps, a bit, erm, rude? - but always sent in the best possible taste (a la Kenny Everett).

John was a keen photographer and he often took his camera on skiing holidays, risking it on piste to get good shots. He once gave me an electronic copy of his favourite photography book to help me with my photography. My first inkling that he had a problem was at Les Arcs when he asked for people to ski past him so he could photograph them, but didn’t turn up at the assigned spot because he felt ill. A few months after that he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.

Even after his diagnosis he continued to be a committee member, attending meetings and greeting members at ski training in the Chill Factore until he could no longer manage. Janet and Brian Winstanley used to help him to get home from events until he finally had to resort to a wheelchair.

I have to say that he fought that horrible disease for a lot longer than I thought was possible, perhaps an indication of his character and zest for life.