John James Bell, 29 January 1943 – 31st December 2019

The very sad news of John’s death stunned the community in which he worked tirelessly for more than twenty years.

John lived in Park Street before moving to Chiswell Green, and both his sons, Richard and Stephen, attended How Wood School.

Life after work for John was a constant round of community service, (with the help of wife Valerie, who made sure he got to every meeting!) as a former member of PSRA, a River Ver Bailiff, member of the Chiswell Green Residents Association and a Parish Councillor representing Chiswell Green Ward.

John’s involvement centred mainly around the countryside, trees and woodlands and he was the founder of the Friends of St. Julian’s Wood, a group of volunteers who looked after the wood and its wildlife.  Every year John organised the Bluebell Walk encouraging residents to follow a trail through the countryside in the Parish.

John was also a member of the Friends of Hanstead Wood helping to ensure that this piece of green space was kept open for the public to enjoy.

As a Parish Councillor he was the Chairman of the Planning Committee and of the Trees and Woodlands Committee. He was also the lead Councillor for the Housing Working Group on the Neighbourhood Plan, helping to preserve the Green Belt and to prevent inappropriate development. 

John was tireless in his efforts to support the activities of the Parish Council and those organisations with which he was involved, and through the Council, the residents of the Parish, regardless of which ward they lived in.  He was selfless in his energies, enthusiasm, devotion and commitment in all that he did, and he will be greatly missed.

Thank you to Bill Pryce for sharing his thoughts and memories of John with us. Full article to be published in our Spring Park Street News magazine.

If you would like to make a contribution in memory of John, his family has chosen 2 charities, The British Heart Foundation and The Woodland Trust. Donations can be made online here.

Editor’s Note: A celebration of John’s life was held 6 February, when many who knew John gathered to honour him and to pay tribute to his life. The oft-used description “Standing room only” accurately described the service. It was a fitting way to honour a man who gave so much in life to his family, community, and to the woodlands.

Photos shared by John’s son Stephen, with thanks.

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