FRIENDS and family of former Bishop’s Waltham journalist John Watts have paid their tributes to him after he died aged 87.
A freelance journalist, an engineer and a supporter of Bishop’s Waltham life, John was born in London in 1928.
At the age of 15 he joined the navy as an apprentice and served with them for 22 years, where he met his second wife Val.
‘I remember seeing this dashing lieutenant from the navy and it was certainly love at first sight,’ Val, a former superintendent registrar in Portsmouth, said.
‘After leaving the navy we decided to move to Southampton and by 1971 we moved to Bishop’s Waltham. Bishop’s Waltham changed John’s life because we got involved with all these different societies and John began writing for them.
‘He would contribute these to the local papers and he was offered a reporter role with the Daily Echo, but didn’t take it because he wanted to support his big family, so became a freelance reporter.
‘It was amazing – John was this belt and braces man with over 20 years in the engineering industry and then within a year he went straight into becoming self-employed.’
Whilst writing articles for various papers across the county, including the Hampshire Chronicle and the Echo, John worked as chief rural officer for Hampshire Council of Community Service which he will no doubt be remembered for.
As well as setting up the Bishop’s Waltham Rotary Club, he started the area’s first information bureau which would later become a Citizens Advice Bureau.
John also worked at the Meon Valley Bowling Club, where he not only produced the club’s newsletter but also worked as club secretary and press officer from the late nineties through until 2007.
He also helped form the Bishop’s Waltham Rotary Club in 1989 and he picked up the Paul Harris Award for outstanding service in the Rotary movement.
John died on December 21 at the age of 87. He leaves behind his wife of 48 years Valerie, four children, three stepchildren, 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.