John was born the eldest son on Wednesday 12th of March 1941 to Hilda and Reg Addicott at Dandylands Farm, Dunsford. Together with his sisters Hilda and Jennie, and brother Sam, John grew up in the local area. Whilst he was happy to venture further afield on holidays and trips, he was a country boy, Devon born and saw no good reason to leave the region he loved.
He was schooled at Dunsford and went onto St Nicks and the former John Stocker School. A quick learner and a keen sportsman he played rugby for the school and his interest in this, and other sports stayed with him throughout his life. John’s love of the country and physical activity meant on leaving school he remained at home on the farm to work alongside his father. He followed this career and stayed a farmer for over 30 years.
In 1961, he met his future wife, Marge. This meeting was not by chance. Deciding that both John and Marge needed a little motivation’, a plot was hatched by John’s sister, Hilda, and Marge’s sister Monica who arranged valentine cards to be sent, each written as though Marge and John were the respective sender. John and Marge rewarded their scheming and plotting as they were married the following year at St John the Baptist Church, Holcombe Burnell.
Once married, they moved to Higher Cotley, Dunsford to begin their life together living and working on the farm. In 1964 their first born arrived, their daughter Lorraine, followed by the arrival of their son David in 1967.
Shortly thereafter, Captain Paul Studholme of Perridge Estate offered John a job and they moved to Darnaford Cottages, Longdown. John milked cows at Mount Boon Farm whilst his farming career continued and developed on the Perridge Estate for the next 32 years, maintaining and growing his love of the land, livestock, and the country.
Not one to be sat at a desk, John finished his career working with Roger Ellis and Les Wollen. For the last few years of his working life, he worked for Andy Brewer landscaping and fencing to end a lifetime of hard and honest toil.
John and Marge entered a happy retirement as they did everything else, together. This included foreign travel which involved getting John on an airplane for the first time. Despite some initial nerves, like everything he did, he took it in his stride, and they had several holidays abroad and in the UK. A well-earned retirement after a life on the land.
However, retirement wasn’t really sitting back, this didn’t figure in John’s plans, except for maybe 40 winks after one of Marge’s legendary roast dinners. John continued his love of the country and country sports and pastimes.
He continued to be a regular on the estate shoots, working as a beater or enjoying the beaters days shoot at the end of the season. Very often more brace were bagged on these days by the country boys than the paying ‘guns’ ever managed. Certainly, John’s reputation as a good shot was well known. One of John’s nephews, Neil, coined the nickname John Wayne for a memorable shot, firing from the hip, which provided two rabbits for the pot.
John always maintained a well-kept garden and his vegetable plot was the envy of many. It not only fed his family, but many visitors left their house laden with runner beans, spuds, tomatoes, and all kinds of fresh veg. His green fingers helped him to win the annual garden club overall cup more than once. Many who took part in the local produce show will recall keeping a nervous and competitive eye on John Addicott and his entries for the show. The definitive set of green fingers whatever he touched in the garden it always grew. His daughter, Lorraine, aptly nicknamed him “Monty John”.
John was heavily involved in the local community in Longdown for several decades. This started from going to local events at the old village hall in Vicarage Lane, Longdown and continued when the new village hall was built on the current site after its opening in 1971. Here, he helped with many events and in many roles from being on the management committee, managing the bar and all the work associated with that, playing badminton and skittles and being the support behind a variety of charitable events many of which have been started by himself and Marge, continue to this day.
Lorraine has fond memories of playing badminton with her father at the village hall. She recalls her and her dad often turning up late in ‘scruffs with John having literally just finished on the tractor for the day. The well turned out members waiting for them in their perfectly pressed kit and state of the art racquets often left scratching their heads as to why they had just been soundly beaten by that rather dishevelled pair!
John was a very keen and talented skittler. His playing ability was well known in Longdown and the Exeter area. Marge shared this passion and once again they enjoyed this together, as they have so much over the last almost 60 years. John played in many leagues over the years and was a sought-after team member. One of the few people to have scored 27 in one turn of 3 balls. The Champagne bottle prize he was awarded for this score, still sits untouched in the wine rack at home. In true Devon style John was happier with Ale or Cider, and of course the obligatory Famous Grouse to chase it along.
As strong as an English Oak, he was able to lift two 56 pound weights above his head whilst others tried and failed around him. On another occasion legend, has it that a combination of some of his nephews and locals, about five in all, took it upon themselves to attempt to put him on the ground in a wrestling match. The result being that whilst you could award them points for ambition and optimism, they did not earn any for success. Like everything else he did in life he was a strong, reliable, and dependable man. When you needed someone to be there, he was.
He enjoyed people and getting to know them. He enjoyed company of all ages. He had a strong sense of family, both immediate and wider. Some of the family get togethers over the years at Darnaford and Halscombe will be fondly remembered by those who attended and more importantly survived them! Always fun, always well fed and always well-watered. John and Marge were always central to these gatherings. On one memorable occasion John enjoyed a gathering so much that the next morning he could be found in the stream at the end of the waste outflow, searching for his false teeth, having expelled them during penance for one too many libations that evening.
Never the loudest man in the room, you could describe him as a better listener than a talker. However, when he did speak his words carried weight and meaning. You did need to listen to John, as within his words he often tested you or introduced some good-natured teasing. Those who didn’t listen did so at their peril.
He was also armed with the ability to cut through rhetoric and hyperbole and get to the point of a discussion in as few words as possible. He did this with charm and a sense of humour, many will recall the twinkle is his eye whilst he had some ‘sport’ at the bar, or at the dining table.
John Arthur Reginald Addicott certainly reflected the values of one of the last great generations who have known hard work and hardship but have come through it with a strong sense of right and wrong and love and loyalty to family.
There are many words and qualities which describe John:
- A strong man, mentally and physically
- A countryman
- Dependable and loyal
- Stubborn perhaps – but only in that his sense of purpose and determination never faltered
- Respected and popular
- Good tempered
- A moral and upright man
- And an excellent sense of humour mixed with just the right amount of mischief
Many people carry and treasure their own memories of him and how he may have touched their lives. Some memories will be personal, some private, many shared and public. That glint in his eye when he was teasing you, the handshake that was like a vice, the calm and measured approach to life even when faced with the challenges that 80 years living bring. A man that liked a drop of whisky, sat at the bar, engaged in the exchange of friendly and playful conversation whilst waiting for his turn on the skittle alley. A practical and pragmatic man but all the time looking for that spark of humour.
Shortly after being diagnosed with the condition to which he eventually succumbed he was told to expect around three years of life remaining. He had lunch with Marge and Lorraine on that same day and when leaving remarked to Lorraine that he couldn’t hang around as he had now used about three hours of the three years he had been given, again with a sparkle in his eye. Although, John decided that three years wasn’t enough and stayed with us for another four.
We should take a moment and dwell on the importance of the word together. It is often overlooked and has been used regularly during this short eulogy. However, it sums up John and Marge’s life and marriage. They were together in every sense of the word and must go down as one of the great double acts of our time! Up there with Posh and Becks, Prince Philip and Liz, Homer and Marge Simpson, strawberries and cream, or John’s choice…. whisky and water.
Most importantly, to Lorraine and Dave, they will always be Mum and Dad, or, in their words, Mother and Father. Often referred to by many as “John and Marge” rather than singularly as individuals, they stand as an example of love, commitment, and loyalty to us all. Almost 60 years after their marriage we now have the honour of saying fare thee well and bon voyage to one half of that great double act.
In terms of legacy then the shared memories of John will live on with those that knew and loved him. Should you ever need a reminder of the man, then take the time every Spring to look at the hundreds of daffodils around the village of Longdown that he planted, together again, with Marge. The planting now being continued by David and Bev when John due to his illness could no longer plant them himself.
Each Spring as we come out of the winter, think of John Arthur Reginald Addicott and rather than shed a tear, smile.
John Arthur Reginald Addicott
12th March 1941 – 31st July 2021