John Hollister Obituary

Thanks to Jimmy Whittaker for this tribute to John Hollister who was goalie then reserves manager at Hungerford Football Club, joint manager at Lambourn Football Club, committee member of Hungerford Cricket Club as well as Chairman of The Tuesday Club. In 2013 he was awarded Freedom of the Town of Hungerford.

John Hollister was born in Wokingham in 1947, the eldest son of Frederick Hollister and Kathleen Dempster who married locally in Newbury. John had four siblings: Joan, Valerie, Paul and Diana. His father Fred was a local man who was born in Hungerford and at the time of the outbreak of WW2 was working on a farm at Upper Denford. Research suggests there have been Hollisters in Hungerford since at least the late 1770s.

My family moved to Hungerford in June 1961 where we lived in Coldharbour Road next door to John’s family. The Hollister family were some of the earliest residents in Coldharbour Road and took up residency there in 1958. John and his brother Paul were virtually the first Hungerfordian teenagers I met. We would hang about the “rec” in  those early days, playing football and cricket and secretly smoking in the park shed!

When John left school around 1963, he went to work for local building firm Gibbs and Son and remained there until 1988 when he was made redundant due to the economic recession.  He then started his own business carrying out building maintenance and a range of handyman services until around 1995 when his chronic arthritis brought about his retirement.

John was very much into sports and I played cricket with him for a couple of seasons in the mid-1960s and football in the Hungerford Minors with his brother Paul.  John was quite a tall, gangly boy and so it was no surprise that he became a goalkeeper.  By the early 1970s, John had matured as a player and eventually ended playing in goal for Hungerford’s first team. Such was his love of football that after his retirement as a player around 1979, he co-managed Hungerford Reserves with Colin Moyle. His managerial career continued for a short time when he became the joint manager at Lambourn Football Club.  On his return from Lambourn FC in the 1980s, he joined Hungerford Town’s committee and towards the end of the 1980s, became Match Secretary.  In 1989 whilst he was Match Secretary,  Hungerford Town reached the semi-final of the FA Vase.

In addition, John served on the Hungerford Cricket Club committee for a number of years.

Hungerford Tuesday Club

It was hardly surprising that with his managerial and secretarial skills together with organisation ability, he was to become a leading light in the Hungerford community, in the Tuesday Club.  This was formed in 1996 with the aim of providing monthly meetings and support for local people with disabilities or difficulties.

In addition to the monthly meetings (now held in the Corn Exchange), there are about a dozen Sunday outings each year and a Summer Holiday.

On 22nd February 2011, John gave a presentation to the Rotary Club of Hungerford describing the history of The Tuesday Club: (courtesy of the Hungerford Virtual Museum)

“Firstly, may I thank you for inviting me here tonight and for your wonderful donation towards our disabled holiday. Your kindness has ensured that every one of the three holidays planned for 2011 has now been partly sponsored. In March and April, we visit Eastbourne for three night breaks, whilst our holiday in July is for a full seven days, also in Eastbourne. Why Eastbourne? Way back in 2000 I made enquiries into disabled breaks; finding suitable accommodation was not particularly easy. We arranged one in Minehead and the following two years in Weymouth. Facilities were okay but not really catering for the more severely disabled. So I found the number of a Hotel in Eastbourne who replied that they were unable to help, but they could give me the number of their other Hotel in the same Town. They were then, and still remain very friendly and helpful. Since 2003 we have completed a total of twelve happy visits of either 3 or 7 night duration.

So what is The Tuesday Club?  It was formed in 1996 succeeding The Burchett Club, applying for Trust status. The objective was to provide a meeting place on a monthly basis for people with difficulties, to make new friends, be provided with entertainment and afternoon tea. I have been a member ever since the first function, a Christmas Party, which the inaugural committee members had funded out of their own pockets as no grants etc had been applied for. I took on the post of Secretary in September 1997, introducing Coach outings and soon after Coach holidays, the first of which saw three separate incidents put any further tours at risk. This first one was to Torquay, the idea seemed quite feasible, although arrangements were to be made through a Coach Company in Bristol, its owner being the owner of the Hotel we were to visit. At no stage in communication was the Coach given details other than timings etc. When the Coach arrived, it turned out to be a double decker with spiral staircase up to where most were seated, as very few seats were available downstairs for the more severely disabled. On arrival at the Hotel, a lady using crutches was coming down the stairs when one of her crutches fell and hit another lady on her head. Once inside, a mix up in room allocation led to two ladies changing rooms with an elderly couple as they had been allotted a double bed. In the move one of the ladies kicked her handbag under the bed accidentally, then accused her room mate of stealing her bag. Whilst trying to deal with this situation, another lady from our group had tripped in her room and broken her shoulder in addition to a black eye. This meant a trip first to Torquay Medical Centre, then on to Torbay Hospital for treatment. Having arrived in Torquay at 3.45pm, we eventually arrived back at 10pm. Thankfully these holidays were to continue for several years, twice to Scotland and Wales, once to Southern Ireland and also many areas of England.

In 2002, a concerted effort was carried out to raise funds in order to achieve us purchasing a vehicle of our own. Help came from many local organisations as well as our own fund-raising events. This saw the arrival of a tail lift facility 12 seater Bus in June 2004. In August of the same year we moved from our base at the British Legion to The Corn Exchange, due to the increase of members to over 100.

We also attained Registered Charity status in March 2003 once an appendage had been added to our former title, since when we are officially The Tuesday Club Hungerford.

Our current itinerary includes a Coach outing on the first week of every month from Spring through to Autumn, Club Meetings in the second week, an outing for those unable to board a Coach are taken in our vehicle in week three, and Pub Lunches on Tuesday and Thursday of week four. Fund-raising events such as Prize Bingo, Sales on Town Hall steps and general Collections etc are fitted in between. The Committee meet every month and the Trustees three times a year.

I think it would be fair to say that The Tuesday Club has come a long way since its first formal event, that first Christmas Party, and today we have a healthy Bank Balance. At the latest Audit we were just £319 of income over expenditure from the annual budget of thirteen and a half thousand pound, a small profit only, though indication of the benefits that our members enjoy. The current aim is to add a second adapted vehicle to our acquisitions as soon as possible. Several options are being considered at this time. I became Chairman in 2005 and have thoroughly enjoyed the challenges that have required attention throughout our short, but very exciting history. Just after taking on the Secretarial position, it was evident that an Audit was to be a priority. Much of the year’s income was accountable, however the outgoings were paid to a large extent in cash. Somehow Jack Williams was able to make up a Balance sheet from the limited detail given by way of receipts etc. In that first eleven months a profit margin of £1,150.00 was made. Pleased to report things have improved considerably since!”

Honours

John was awarded the Mayor’s Award by Chris Jennings in 2001 and in 2007 was nominated for the Queen’s Award for Service to the Community. In  2013, he was awarded the Freedom of the Town. This award is intended to promote good citizenship by recognising as role models those Hungerfordians who by their actions and demeanour have demonstrated exceptionally loyal service to the benefit of the town, and John certainly earned its respect.

Sadly, after several years of ill-heath,  John died in May 2020, aged 73.

 

Dr Jimmy Whittaker

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