Back in the mid 90s we got to know John through the British Rally Championship, we were covering the video and photos for the Colway Tyres 1300 Championship that followed the BRC calendar. Back then John was co-ordinator for a championship that was to evolve into one of the best eras of the sport as the Formula 2 cars ruled the roost with nearly a dozen manufacturers involved in the series.
Working with the North Wales Weekly News we also became acquainted with John in his National Press Officer role on the Network Q RAC Rally and it was this role that we that we really got to know John. As WRGB moved south, we were unable to gain media access as the papers lost interest. During a conversation with JH in 2002 he suggested he may have a job for us to do, turns out it was the End Of Stage media duties we have continued doing since 2003.
In typical John fashion, the initial description of the task was to help interview the national drivers towards the back of the field, this quickly became the entire WRC field and we were invited to help John with various tasks during the event over the years.
In 2012, on the day of my birthday (which John had taken the time to find out) John rang to invite me to work on the British Grand Prix. Five days at Silverstone, in the media office, my first taste of F1, I was honoured as he told me the invitation was well earned. It was during these week long 'jobs' that we were able to listen to the anecdontes, tales and laugh over a glass of wine at what John and his partner in crime Mick Loomes used to get up to.
Last years 'gathering' during the British Grand Prix 'Bill and Ben the Dunlop men'!
As John stepped down from his WRGB duties, and latterly the British GP he was able to enjoy more time doing the other things he loved, like his walking. He even visited our very own Conwy, where he stayed with us for a couple of nights. He would stay in touch even though there was no business to be dealt with and would always take the time to say hello even with a mic in his hand on a rally podium.
He was the kind of man that would help anyone, no matter who they were and would always do it with a smile. Spending time with him, and Mick Loomes, demonstrated the passion for a sport they both loved and people they enjoyed working with. The stories the two had were, in my eyes, just epic. Delivering Dunlops on WRC events, media quotes from the RAC days touring in a bus, running the old media office at Silverstone. They had been there, done that and had the hat, scarf and t-shirt!
I can only thank John for the opportunities he gave us and that he will be sorely missed.