Trinity Methodist Church - Romford


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John Tibbles 1920 - 2011

Posted by trinityromford on May 9, 2011 at 12:11 PM


JOHN TIBBLES - born on the 12tll July 1920 at home in the flat above his father's bakery and shop in High St. Shoeburyness. Essex.His brother Alan was born when John was 7. John was proud of their father's origins in Great Wakering. Essex and researched the family tree at times throughout his life - but he never liked the name Tibbles!

When he was 5 the family maid asked if she could take him to The Methodist Church Sunday School. He enjoyed this and at 10 years old he signed The Pledge. He became a lifelong Methodist especially interested in Youth and House Groups, serving for 6 yrs as a Circuit Steward. He was a strong advocate of Anglican-Methodist re-union in the 1960s. and he always participated in ecumenical initiatives. In later life he enjoyed his association with St Andrew's Parish Church In Hornchurch.

John's formal education started at Hinguar Street Elementary School in Shoebury where he won the Scholarship Prize in 1931. He Matriculated in 1936 from Southend High School for Boys. On the advice of his father and the headmaster he went to work in London. In this extract from a letter John recalls his first job:

"In my first job, I was one of three filing clerks. aged 20. 18 and 17. in a self-contained section. with the 20-year old in charge. responsible for 100.000 clients' files in an insurance company. We three. and the 100.000 files occupied the first floor: there were fifty underwriters and clerks on the ground floor. When they rang for a file. we got it to them in about one minute flat. We ran everywhere. up and down those metal-edged concrete stairs. about a hundred times a day. I was very happy. until the 20-year old 'boss' passed the Civil Service examination. and left. My 18-year old friend. who had joined on the same day as myself about 6 months previously. was certain of promotion. and I felt. on the strength of my enthusiasm and hard work that I deserved promotion. But what happened? Neither of us was promoted. We were considered too inexperienced and not sufficiently responsible, and they found a young lady of 20 to oversee the pair of us. I was the most junior employee in that firm. and I remained so for another 6 months,

when I-decided it was time to get off the bottom rung of the ladder. So I left.  There must be a moral in this story somewhere. I think it must be that. if you and your talents and hard work are not. in your opinion. properly appreciated. then you just have to move on."

John did move on and trained as an accountant with Hard & Co. The only interruption to this was Military service from 1940 to 1947. About his training at Dover Castle he wrote:

"I was lucky enough to be one of the two candidates from the unit who were selected for officer training: I mention this partly on the grounds of truth. and partly immodesty. Shortly after selection. which was close to my 2711 birthday. I was told that if I volunteered to be trained in India. my training would begin much sooner. In 1941. Hitler's recently installed cross-Channel  guns were firing shells at Dover .... Not being a hero by nature (I mention this on the grounds of truth not modesty) I jumped at the offer to escape from this real. but long-range, war. and volunteered for India immediately. sailing at the end of 1941".

John served in the Pioneer Corps, the Royal Indian Artillery and the Royal Army Service Corps in India. and finally in Germany at the end of the war. He wrote about this to Tina:

"Our 22nd Birthdays do have something in common: in July 1942I was an officer-cadet at the School of Artillery. Deolali (called 000 Lally by the troops) India. inland from Bombay (now Mumbai. I believe). So we were both in training. but it was for something more peaceable for you than it was for me: but I have no regrets and enjoyed every minute of it. And of course we were both away from home. Deolali was notorious in army circles for sunstroke (called Doolally Tap by the troops) and I did spend a week in hospital there with that very complaint. I passed out on a desert march miles from our camp. and woke up in the back of a bullock cart on the way to hospital."

Whilst in the army John won his unit's 440 yards race and a bronze medal for the 'hop, step and jump'. He also enjoyed chess tournaments. Due to his poor eyesight John had been unable to join the RAF as had his 5 closest friends, all of whom sadly died in combat.

After the War John worked for several Accountancy Firms in London before qualifying as a Chartered Accountant in 1948, becoming a 'Fellow of the Chartered Accountants' in 1953. Of his training John wrote in another birthday letter:

"Of course I don't believe in Numerology, but 26 - quite apart from being twice thirteen· has served me well. Your qrand-mother was 26 when we married, and I was 26 when de-mobbed from the army. As a 'veteran' (if I was a veteran at 26, what am I now?) my professional training was reduced from five to three years: and having already gained exemption from exam number one, I was, with all other 'veterans', exempted from exam number two, so only had to take exam number three (although it did take a week.) And that's why I'm a member of the worst-trained and least-experienced cohort of accountants that ever there was ."

John moved to Romford from Shoebury in 1951 to take a position with Regentone, and then in 1952 he was appointed-to work for the Trebor Group. He stayed there until he retired after 34 years at the age of 65. Whilst there he was Chief Accountant, Finance Director and an Instructor in Management.

After the War John was reunited with Olive, She was, in his words, his 'soul-mate', They were married from June 7th1948 until her early death on December 24th 1981 - over 33 years. Between 1949 and 1953 they had 3 children - Geoffrey. Margaret and Janet. Following Olive's death he lived alone for a further 29 years filling his life with work. voluntary work and hobbies including Christmas card design, bird watching, gardening. music. debate and growing trees. In his retirement John's interest in the garden grew. He gradually planted more specimen trees and then started on the hedges .. , everywhere a hedge could go it was planted. Hedges appeared in all sizes around the garden and any curves disappeared in favour of straight lines accentuated with rows of box, yew, beech or privet. Trimming the hedges himself. with shears. was a task he only gave up in the last 5 years. He walked down the garden almost everyday planning changes and thinking of new ways to improve what was there. During this time he gradually changed the family home into a bachelor pad from the 1930·s. John also indulged his interest in our manorial heritage and changed his name in 1993 to John Hornchurch and then again in 2008 to John Otford. .

In retirement John became treasurer for the Romford YMCA and later Chairman. He was also treasurer for Havering Victim Support, and patron and administrator for the Otford Foundation. John was an active member of his chosen 'political party' and served the cause in various ways including the use of his home for meetings and events.

His involvement with Trinity Methodist Church was a constant throughout his time in Romford and Hornchurch. John's philosophy for life was formed at an early age and consistently applied. He held fast to his Christian faith and values. generous with time and money in the service of God and people. a deep thinker, loving, fair. honest. helpful, tidy. organised, thorough. never wasting time. lacking only occasionally in tact and empathy. He considered himself greatly blessed by God recognising this in daily events. In his diary he wrote his new year resolutions for 2011 formed from a talk by Dr Jonathan Sacks: Give thanks. Praise. Time with family. Discover meaning. Live your values. Forgive. Keep learning listen. Be silent (soul),Transform suffering

In summary he wrote: Most are elements of the Religious life: LIVE" GIVE * FORGIVE CELEBRATEAND PRAISE.TURN LIFE INTO A BLESSING Most important amongst his many blessings were his 6 grandchildren and his first great-grandchild Katie. John did not embrace modern technology but continued to enjoy writing letters to his grandchildren about his exploits as a young man and giving them advice for life.


Finally, an accountant to the end. he died at 6pm on the last day of the financial year - April 5th 2011.



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