His many friends in Langwathby and further afield were saddened to learn of the death of John Henry Pearson, formerly of Bampton and Penrith, aged 75.
The second child of Harry and Mary Pearson, Big John Henry, as he was affectionately known in later life, was born in Penrith.
He had an older sister, Judith, and younger brother, Mark.
While his father was away in the Army in Egypt, John’s family lived at Carleton, Penrith, with his mother’s sister and her family.
After leaving school, John began an apprenticeship as a stonemason but, realising this was not for him, went to work for W. H. Smith and Son in Penrith and Kendal, subsequently running their book stall at Grange-over-Sands railway station.
This forged a love of books of all types he kept for the rest of his life.
John’s parents ran the Dover Cafe, Shap, for a number of years and John joined them in the business. Scottish holidays were busy periods and during these long queues often formed at the cafe in the early hours, with John and his dad serving chips out of the back window.
Once the M6 opened, however, business rather declined.
John still lived with his parents, adding to his work pattern by driving a school taxi for Arnold Simpson and delivering post at remote locations around Shap, then heading back to do food preparation at the cafe.
It was at this time that, through a mutual friend, he met Margaret, a student at Charlotte Mason College, Ambleside.
They were married within six months and many people were sure it would never last, but they celebrated their golden wedding last October.
They initially lived at Burnbanks, Bampton, where their daughter Helen was born in 1973.
John worked as an ambulance technician for many years, gaining a long service award and enjoying the company of colleagues and patients alike, with some of the latter continuing to speak of his kindness and care for them.
He had to retire early from the service due to ill-health, but continued to have very fond memories of his work.
The nature of his job meant he was able to spend a lot of time with Helen as she grew up and a very special bond developed between them.
The family returned to Bampton School House in 1986 and lived there until two years after the school closed in 2005. John loved his life at Bampton, working in the garden, walking his dogs, helping to maintain the cemetery and enjoying “crack” with all and sundry.
John also acted as company clerk in the TA based at Kendal – the King’s Own Royal Border Regiment. Weekends away and camps could be very challenging, but John thrived on looking after the officers, gaining a few perks for himself along the way.
After the closure of the school at Bampton, John and Margaret moved to Langwathby, to a house opposite Helen and her children, Harry and Tegan. John was their main carer while Helen was at work, and his love for them was unconditional.
John and his son-in-law Andy shared an interest in vehicles, trailers, lawnmowers and other mechanical items, and spent many hours discussing them. Andy named his large trailer Big John Henry as a tribute to his father-in-law.
John also took up new hobbies, for a number of years enjoying watercolour classes in the village hall and joining North Lakes Field Archers, also at the hall.
He made many new friends, especially Ted, and the two enjoyed many friendly competitions with each other.
John spent a number of years going every Friday as a volunteer to Cumbria’s Museum of Military Life in Carlisle. Art, archery and the museum were the highlights of his week, and he missed them greatly on going into lockdown.
A couple of months ago John suffered a large stroke and, despite great support from the physios at the Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle, did not recover.
Since he died, many people have sent messages confirming what a kind and genuine man he was.