Thursday, 11 August 2022

Well-travelled academic and author with passion for cycling

JOHN HUTTON passed away at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading on February 8, aged 82,

JOHN HUTTON passed away at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading on February 8, aged 82, after several years of poor health.

He was on the senior directing staff at the Henley Business School, where he lectured to managers and postgraduate students from around the world from 1975 until his retirement.

John was chairman of the Henley University of the Third Age group and an active member of Henley Probus Club until ill health meant he could no longer play a part.

A passionate cyclist, he cycled across the UK and Europe, especially in France, Belgium, Germany and Portugal, where he enjoyed extended cycling tours, often with his wife  Rosemary.

John’s extensive knowledge of the countryside around Henley was built up by getting to know the good local cycle routes and visiting some of the local pubs and tea rooms en route.

He also enjoyed and was very knowledgeable when it came to local history. When the Reading CTC was re-founded in 1985 John was one of the founder members and was made treasurer.

He went on to play other roles over the years as a committed member and John and Rosemary made lasting friendships in this group.

Several articles were published in the CTC magazine including “From Henley to the sea” in the mid-Eighties, which described a 70-mile, largely country route skirting Reading and Basingstoke. This route was soon being followed by many cyclists.

John gave lectures on various subjects close to his heart, including “The history of bicycling” to the Henley Archaeological and Historical Group and others to the U3A. He inspired many to rediscover their interest in cycling and was a motivating and inspiring force for many.

John was born in Colchester in 1933 where his parents were active in scouting. His father Fred was a scoutmaster and his mother Grace was cub mistress. Fred was a manager of the glass department at Kent Blaxill’s in Colchester for most of his working life.

John remembered fondly his early years living with his parents and father’s extended family.

Sadly, at the age of five, John’s mother and her baby died following childbirth. Following this there was a period of uncertainty as to John’s future as his paternal grandmother, who cared for him, also then died.

In 1940, following the onset of war, John was evacuated to Ontario in Canada as part of the wartime Overseas Reception Scheme. Colchester was a military town on the east coast and therefore seen as being at risk of bombing or even invasion.

On being evacuated to Canada, John remembered saying goodbye to his father and having little comprehension of how long it would be before he returned home.

He eventually settled with a family whom he described as being “exceptionally warm and hospitable” from the beginning. His stay in Canada proved to be life-changing and he felt that some of his interests in working and living with different cultures stemmed in part from his wartime evacuee experiences.

John and his extended family remained in close contact with the family he stayed with in Canada and had more than 70 years of shared memories.

John’s first-person account was included in the book The Guest Children by Geoffrey Bilson, which follows evacuated children’s individual experiences when moving to Canada, their time there and on their return.

At the age of 12, John returned to England to rejoin his father and extended family whom he hadn’t seen since he was seven.

John’s father married his second wife Joy Lawrence in 1947 and they went on to have three sons, Geoff, Peter and Laurie.

John went to the Royal Grammar School in Colchester and later, after National Service in the army in Germany, he was awarded an Essex county scholarship to read economics and geography at University College, London, and the London School of Economics where he graduated with first class honours.

In 1961 John married Rosemary Hodges, a farmer’s daughter from Herefordshire, and they emigrated to Australia as “Ten Pound Poms” under a scheme to encourage emigration. This required the enlisters to guarantee to stay for a minimum period or they’d be penalised financially.

John went on to hold business, academic research and teaching appointments in Perth and Melbourne. His work with developing countries took the family to Papua New Guinea and then to Uganda as part of a Rockefeller Foundation’s education aid programme.

Their two daughters, Sarah and Catherine, were born in Melbourne and son David in Uganda.

In 1970, just before the collapse of law and order under Idi Amin in Uganda, the family left and drove on a two-month “safari” of more than 4,000 miles down through Africa to Cape Town. John described this as a truly memorable experience.

On their return to England, the family settled in Altrincham, Cheshire, where John took up the position of director of the Centre for Business Research at the new University of Manchester Business School.

In 1975 the family moved to Henley, where John joined the Administrative Staff College, later the Henley Business School.

His book The Mystery of Wealth was published in 1979. This was aimed mainly at students and introduced the history of politics and economics to them and how this had influenced the modern world economy.

The family settled in a home in Henley and the children attended Trinity Primary School, Gillotts School and King James’ College (later The Henley College). Rosemary worked as a senior physiotherapist at Townlands Hospital for 20 years.

Following John and Rosemary’s retirement, the couple visited Australia, New Zealand and their friends in Canada. They also enjoyed Baltic and Black Sea cruises and great rail journeys in Europe and across America and Canada.

Rosemary and John shared a very long and happy marriage of 49 years until Rosemary’s death in 2010.

John always loved meeting new and interesting people, often from abroad, and during his many travels, often on his bike, near home and further afield, made many lifelong friendships.

Sadly, in recent years, his health meant that he was unable to enjoy many of his previous pastimes but he still enjoyed visits from family and friends.

John was a loving and supportive father to Sarah, Catherine and David and a proud grandad to Emma, Matthew, Thomas and Lucy.

He will be sorely missed by all his family and those who knew him well.

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