had many outside interests, starting with watercolour painting
in Cullybackey; becoming a trained singer with a great love of
classical music, and in Banbridge joining the
highly esteemed McCready Singers. He was also a past
president of the Banbridge Musical Society and one sadness in
his life was his increasing deafness when he could no longer
hear and enjoy much loved music.
1949 he was co-founder of the Banbridge Camera Club and, as
slides of his alpine plants show, was a skilled photographer.
nearly 30 years he was involved with the Duke of Edinburgh’s
Award Scheme and in the 60’s co-founded the Loughbrickland
Sailing Club where they began building their own boats.
wife Mary died in 1968 and they had no family.
the real love of John’s life was the Alpine Garden Society,
indeed as his nephew said, the AGS was his family.
He was a passionate gardener, belonging not only to the
AGS but also both the Scottish and North American Rock Garden
Clubs, and the Irish Garden Plant Society.
was Hon. Secretary of the Ulster Group for 16 years until 1994
and set such a standard that succeeding secretaries like myself
have found him a hard act to follow. In appreciation he was made
an Honorary Life Member of the Ulster Group and also by the
Dublin Group whom he also supported in many ways. Over the years
he won many Certificates of Merit for his plants and in 1998 he
won the Farrer Medal in Dublin with a lovely display of
Fritillaria affinis. His untiring work for the society was
recognised by the AGS Certificate of Honour ( please check the
title of this award & the date) awarded to him by the then
President, Peter Erskine.
John will be remembered by the Ulster group not just for his
garden full of wonderful plants, his plant knowledge and endless
tips, but for his warm, affectionate personality and for his
Many tributes were made to John at the luncheon which was by
invitation of the new President, Mr. Bob Gordon,
Vice-Presidents and committee of the Ulster Group and was
organised by our Hon. Treasurer, Mrs Margaret Glynn, helped by
Bob and other members of the Group. Prior to the lunch, members
and friends gathered in his garden for one last time, where his
plants were sold with a view to raising funds, hopefully to set
up a travel award scheme.
a moving tribute paid to him by the President, Bob recounted his
love of poetry especially that of A.E.Houseman, his wonderful
memory and humour - always having an
appropriate verse at the right time.
left his body to science, many of his books, plants, slides etc
to the Ulster Group and asked for no memorial service. But I
think he would have appreciated, in the words of one member,
“John’s Day” and our hopes to have an award in his memory.
will not be forgotten by the Ulster group for in so many ways
John was indeed “a man worth knowing”.