John Fletcher 1933 to 2022
John Fletcher was a true son of Winterton, his whole life and family history were bound up with the growth of this town as it has developed over the past 200 years. John is very much a part of the history of Winterton. There has been a John Fletcher in the family since before 1877 when great grandad John and Brother Tom set up T & J Fletcher as an Agricultural engineering and manufacturing company at Newport Ironworks on North Street. The company, T and J Fletcher, was still thriving and continuing to serve the farming community until the recent, sudden death of John’s son Richard. It is little wonder then that John was a passionate local historian. John spent hours researching the history of the town and was a fund of knowledge about the past, especially the five Winterton Windmills one of which was owned by a member of the Fletcher family, again named John. Unfortunately it was burnt down on Wednesday 23rd February 1903. John told me the value of the mill and surrounding buildings was insured for £230.
John was also interested in the history of this magnificent church and helped at the Heritage Centre. He keenly followed the work on the modernisation and construction of the new kitchen. He confided that he would have loved to have worked for the builder on this project had he been a few years younger. John made the weather vane and some candlesticks for All Saints Church.
As a teenager he was a keen cycle rider, riding for Barton Wheelers, where he met his future bride Betty. They rode with legendary names of that golden era of local cyclists, Pete Brotherton, Jack Tighe and of course Nev Tong. This group actually rode to their race meetings and then, after a up to a 100 mile journey raced for the afternoon, before setting off back home with their trophies. John kept up his cycling well into his seventies and still had a number of racing bikes in his garage.
After his apprenticeship John did his National Service in the RAF (1954 to 1956) . His first posting was to the Central Gunnery School at RAF Leconfield working on Avro Lincolns. When he got a weekend pass he would cycle home on Friday nights to see Betty, crossing the New Holland Ferry and return on Sunday evening. One Sunday he was riding through Beverley, on his way back to camp, when the traffic lights at North Gate turned red so John put his head down and sprinted through, only to be chased by a police car. He was subsequently charged with exceeding the speed limit on a pedal cycle and when the summons reached the camp his commanding officer was highly amused and reportedly paid the fine.
When the Lincolns were retired at Leconfield John was posted to RAF Kinloss on the Moray Firth in Scotland where he worked on the Avro Shackleton Marine Reconnaisance aircraft. When he got a weekend pass he would hitch a lift with an aircraft flying south to a nearby base and Tom, his dad, would drive out to pick him up.
His love of aircraft never diminished from the time he joined the Royal Observer Corps as a teenager through his National Service and only last November he attended a Memorial Service at Fiskerton, once the HQ of Bomber Command. Winterton was always a strong post and John became Post Instructor and then Head Observer in the 60s. Thanks to his energy and enthusiasm the post won many prizes. When the Queen reviewed the ROC in 1966 John was selected to represent the York Group and was presented to her Majesty. He served for over 40 years, retiring with the rank of Observer Lieutenant. He continued his involvement with the ROC and the RAF and right up to last year he would drive over to RAF bases or Kirmington to do a bit of aircraft spotting. Every year he contacted the WW2 Memorial Flight to get a fly past at Winterton Show, so when you look up and hear the evocative sounds of a Spitfire or Lancaster passing over Winterton Showground just say a quiet thank you to John for starting this great tradition. As a youth, during the week prior to the Mid Summer Show he would go down to the Park with his father Tom, and help prepare the ground ready for the weekend, erecting fencing to form the show ring, on the Monday and Tuesday, and on the Thursday night shovelling cowpats from the ring, especially from the track where he would be competing 48 hours later in the cycle racing events. In those days, when the Devil Take the Hindmost Race, the last race of the Saturday Sports, was often ridden as the sun was setting. John was invited to join the Winterton Agricultural Society in 1957, continuing a family tradition going back many years where sons followed fathers onto the Committee.
John has continued working for the Show, and even a few days before his death was working on the trade stands for this year’s 150th Year Show. Throughout the year he contacted regular traders and sought new ones to fill the ground in addition to all his other work for the Society. Even as recently as last Bonfire night he was organising the car parking for the event. He was also responsible for marking out the track and had special markers buried in the ring so that he could mark out the track to perfection year on year. You would often find him looking over the ground at any time of the year checking that everything was in order down at the show field.It has taken three committee members to take on the legacy of work now that John has departed the Show Committee which sums up the enormous contribution he made to the life of Winterton Agricultural Society. John was never Chairman of the Show, turning it down year after year, and was only finally prevailed upon to take on the Vice Presidency some nine years ago and then at last the Presidency in 2015.
John and Betty had three children, Anita, Richard and Andrew, four granddaughters, Lyndsey, Nicola, Laura and Megan and Great grandchildren Harriet, Oliver, Evylin, Matilda and another on the way. John took a keen interest in his grandchildren but a special interest in the great grand children and was always keen to know how they were getting on at school or in their sporting and social activities.
Twenty two years ago tragedy struck the family when Betty was diagnosed with Alzeimers Disease, John nursed Betty throughout those dark and difficult days until her death 17 years ago.
Some years later John became friendly with his old CO in the Observers and he and Freda spent many holidays together cruising around the world. For many years Wednesday and Saturdays were golfing days down at Scunthorpe Golf Club at Ashby Decoy. John playing off a very respectable handicap in the low teens. .
John was Winterton through and through, he will be truly missed but never forgotten because he has left a legacy in this town that will live on for many, many years to come.
Thank you John, we all owe you a sincere debt of gratitude.
Immediate Past President