Much respected Repton and District GP 1925-2021 Ken Robinson died peacefully aged 96, on 12th August 2021 in his flat at Letcombe Regis near Wantage. He had moved there after leaving Cornergates in The Pastures, after Jane had become increasingly unsteady and needing full time carers. They were very happy in the complex with excellent care which Ken needed, especially after the fall and fractured tibia in January that left him unable to walk. Joanna and I were lucky to visit him 3 weeks before he died and he really was just like the Ken of old.
He was a very private gentleman and I think gentleman is the most appropriate description. He went to Charterhouse School in 1938 and left in 1943 to start his medical course at Cambridge. As was usual, he then moved to a London Hospital (he chose Guys) to do the clinical part, and then qualified in 1949. He then did 2 years national service in the RAF where he was an acting Squadron Leader, which you had to be as a medical officer I believe! After that he did some obstetrics in Liverpool and then worked as an assistant in a practice in Colwall, Worcestershire. This was followed by six months in Newbury before coming to Repton as a GP partner in 1955 where he replaced Dr Hodson (Hodder). Dr Lindsey was still a partner but probably hardly working by then, and Dennis Sheldon had arrived not long before. They initially lived in Applegarth on the High Street and then bought a plot in the Pastures from the school where they built Cornergates and planted up the garden. He retired from general practice in 1990.
I remember him doing a lot of obstetrics and many of the comments have been from people saying how much they appreciated his care in looking after them and delivering their children personally, and also looking after them through life as their local doctor. Proper old fashioned general practice. His children remember local farmers arriving on tractors, or people borrowing the school 4-ton lorry, to ferry him out to distant villages and farms in thick snow to deliver people or to attend to the sick.
He was a great gardener and became very knowledgeable, starting the Gardening Tips column in the Parish Magazine. I think in his later years in practice many patients came to see him not only with their own illness, but often would bring out a plant with diseased leaves and ask for an opinion. On one occasion I went to Cornergates to tell him about a patient, and through the sleet and wind came this figure of Ken in his greatcoat with secateurs in hand. “Just tidying up, Brian”.
He was very involved in the local Open Gardens Scheme and latterly in the Derbyshire Historic Garden Society which he enjoyed greatly in retirement.
He was a great lover of nature and had an encyclopaedic knowledge of birds and their songs, and a great interest in all wildlife leading them both to travel widely on safaris and wildlife holidays.
He had a great and quiet sense of humour. He was an ideal Senior Partner for me when I started in 1971, and the move from what is now St Wystan’s School to the Repton Health Centre in 1979 was all down to his efforts in the 1960s to get a medical centre in Repton.
My sympathy to John, Elizabeth and Philip and the grandchildren. The funeral was in Wantage on 26th August 2021.
Dell Spencer 1930 – 2021
Dell was born above her father’s hairdressing business in Swadlincote in 1930 to Bernard & May Whitfield. She always considered herself a “Swaddie” and was proud of her roots.
When she was young the business and the family moved to Burton, where, when Dell was 11, her Mother decided to send her to boarding school. She attended Ockbrook School in Derbyshire and loved every minute of it from the moment she arrived.
Dell gained a lot of confidence at school and was very fortunate, when at the age of 18, she was chosen to represent Burton-upon-Trent and travel to Burton (Ohio) in the USA which was a new concept in 1948. The mayor of Burton, Ohio was planning celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the town, and requested an “attractive girl” be selected and flown over for a 3 month stay. Flying was a major undertaking back then, especially in times of hardship after the war years. Dell flew, unaccompanied, from London to Ireland where they refuelled, then on to New York. Arriving in New York she was interviewed and photographed by the press before flying on to Buffalo. Letters she sent back show she was dazzled by what America had to offer in comparison to post war England, and how kind the Americans were to her. She took with her as gifts a bottle of King’s Ale brewed in 1902 in Burton when the newly crowned King Edward VII visited the brewery and started the brew, and a bottle of Prince’s Ale brewed in 1929, a brew started by the Prince of Wales before he became King Edward VIII.
Dell stayed with various families in the town and attended many celebration events, giving lots of speeches along the way. On return to England Dell was interviewed by BBC radio as this was such an unusual and exciting story. She remained in touch with the Mayor of Burton (Ohio) and his daughter, throughout her life.
Dell decided to follow her love of children by pursuing a teaching career. She worked as a student teacher at Victoria Road Infant school in Burton (still there today, not far from Queen’s hospital), before enrolling at Bedford Froebel teaching college in 1949. There Dell qualified as a teacher, specialising in Maths and Biology.
Dell’s mother’s best friend had a son called Mick, and it was always expected that they would marry. Unfortunately for Mick when he was 16, he brought home his friend from school to stay for the summer holidays. This was John Spencer, who eventually stole his girl.
Her first teaching job was in Leicester as John was a pharmacy student there, before moving to teach at Bretby Village school. The school was very small, children walked in from the local farms, often walking several miles in all weathers. The school initially had dirt floors and the children were allowed to have time off to help with the hay making.
Dell married John Spencer in 1957 when he was working at the chemist shop in Repton, a business and house they eventually managed to buy in 1967.
Bretby school closed in 1969 and Dell decided to leave teaching to help John in the business which was now growing. This was a difficult decision as she had just been offered the headship of Newton Solney village school. She continued to work alongside John in the Repton chemist shop until they both retired some 30 years later.
Her two daughters, Naomi & Rachel grew up in Repton and were lucky to have both parents around, even if this meant the occasional telling off for interrupting customers.
On retiring in 1992 John & Dell moved to Monsom Lane, where together they transformed a derelict bungalow and garden into a little paradise. In addition they bought a campervan and spent many happy times travelling the country with their beloved dogs.
In later life John developed dementia but was cared for by Dell at home until eventually he needed to move into a care home. When John died in 2014 Dell missed him greatly. She became very frail and spent her last few years at Lorraine’s Care home in Church Gresley, back to her beloved Swadlincote. For her this was like being back at boarding school, surrounded by people and no longer lonely.
Dell will be remembered by her family as a very caring person who always tried to help even if she could sometimes seem a bit too much like a teacher. She loved wildlife, her garden and animals and was a keen supporter of the RSPCA.
Rosamund Edith Sykes 1939 – 2021
Rosamund (Ros) was born on 11th August 1939 in Market Bosworth to Bill and Edith Lampard.
Ros was a musical academic and met her husband Peter whilst she was working as a music teacher in his home town of Coventry. They were married on Easter Monday 1965 in Market Bosworth.
The couple’s first home was in Kenilworth near the castle ruins and here they spent five happy years before Ros was made head of music at a new comprehensive school in Coventry and the couple moved to Meriden.
Their son Richard was born in February 1970 followed by Matthew three years later.
Peter’s job was moved to Hilton and the couple found a plot of land on Burton Road, Repton, where they were able to build their dream house. During the build in 1978 they lodged with Bill and Edith in Market Bosworth where they made many new friends.
In 1986 Peter and Ros purchased the Post Office in Repton where Ros helped in the early years before her teaching career took all of her time.
The couple celebrated their Silver Wedding anniversary in St Wystan’s Church with a replay of their wedding, followed by a party at The Red Lion.
Later Ros moved on to teaching extra maths at Brocksford Hall in Doveridge, where her pupils included the children of J C Bamford, before moving to Howitt House School in Hanbury.
The couple enjoyed their Post Office home which they referred to as their ‘beautiful Georgian relic’ with all its 42 stairs and more steps……..
Sadly Ros was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and her slow but inevitable
physical decline restricted her social life.
Ros passed away 3 days after suffering a sudden fall and will be greatly missed by her family and friends.
Averil June Kerry (June)
Averil June Kerry (nee Adams and known to all as June) was born and raised in Newton Solney before marrying Tom and moving to Repton (Tom was a Repton lad all his life).
Their marriage was blessed with three daughters, Angela, Susan and Sarah and together they enjoyed a rich, varied, and active life -now a rich treasure chest of special memories.
That active life embraced dancing (in her teens June danced as a cygnet in a
production of Swan lake), sewing, tapestry, tennis, rifle shooting, horse riding, jet skiing, and paragliding. In her later years she terrified all and sundry as she raced around on her electric invalid bike, her, ‘Go, Go’.
In the Repton community, June will be remembered with great affection for her involvement in the Brownies, as Brown Owl then District Commissioner, not forgetting the many Summer Camps which she organised and led.
Perhaps Repton will remember June especially as ‘the village barber’, snipping many a pupil’s hair and one pupil’s ear when Parkinsons started to manifest and eventually forced retirement.
Even with this illness June found a way to help others, talking to local groups of trainee doctors, speaking to local Parkinsons groups, and volunteering in the trial of new drugs. Indeed, June never allowed this illness to slow her down nor keep her inactive, even if her activity was from a wheelchair.
All who knew June and were blessed to share a part of their life with her, will have been empowered by her spirit and zest for life.
Maggie Tennant 1935 – 2020
Maggie moved to Repton in 2006 in order to support her son Ian, in the aftermath of a life-changing case of encephalitis. Such a response – uprooting herself and partner Hugh, moving 100 miles to a new part of the country, and wholeheartedly committing to meeting the family need – was typical of her practicality, energy and sense of priority. Maggie’s extraordinary capacity for love, of family and of her fellowman was the golden common thread that ran through all aspects of her life, personal and professional.
Born in 1935 in Sutton Coldfield, her early life was dominated by the war years, but she spoke very fondly of a happy and secure childhood with loving parents and her younger brother Richard, and along with resilience and a strong sense of social justice, her childhood fostered a wonderfully sunny and positive character.
Despite academic success at school, her father Harold took some persuading that it was worth investing in Higher Education for a daughter. But he finally yielded to her wish to train as a teacher and it was immediately clear that she had found her vocation. Early success on her course won her a scholarship to study for a year at the Central School of Speech and Drama, where she attended classes in the Royal Albert Hall and rubbed shoulders with contemporaries such as Judi Dench.
Her 20s and 30s were filled with the busyness of life: beginning her teaching career, marriage to Michael Brown and the arrival of her daughter Julia, a period as a single, working mother in an era when such situations enjoyed less support, and then marriage to John Tennant and the birth of Ian. But throughout the vicissitudes of domestic life, she flourished professionally. Classroom teaching led to management positions, headteachership, and thence to an influential role as an adviser for Buckinghamshire LEA. She also led school inspections for Ofsted, though she never relished this work, instinctively preferring the opportunity to guide, support and mentor colleagues, rather than to deal out judgement. Such was her standing and indeed her enjoyment of her profession that she continued working well beyond the usual age of retirement: her final role monitoring home-schooling took her into a variety of unconventional settings but where her humanity and deep-founded tolerance was as welcome as her educational expertise.
Semi-retirement allowed other opportunities, including her work with the charity Sana, whose mission – to promote reconciliation and interfaith dialogue across the communities of Bosnia which had been riven apart by civil war – closely accorded with her own, deeply-held values. In particular, she was able to use her educational expertise to gain support from the British Council and to set up links between schools in Bosnia and the UK; and, as everywhere, Maggie developed many firm friendships in her numerous trips to the country.
She experienced her fair share, and more, of the challenges of life; but she maintained an extraordinarily positive and forward-looking outlook. Maggie and Hugh were adventurers, always planning their next expedition, project or cruise, and they enjoyed over 30 very happy years together. She committed energetically to the community of in her new Derbyshire home, in particular as part of the St Wystan’s pastoral team and the Lunch Club. And it was the greatest pleasure of her latter years in Repton that she was able to spend so much time with both her children. Afternoon crosswords with Ian were a daily ritual, and the arrival of Julia and Kristian in Repton in 2014 provided the loving support that made her final years so happy and comfortable, despite the impact of Alzeheimer’s Disease in more recent years.
She described her life as a blessed one; but her family and the Repton community were just two that were blessed by her presence.
Gordon Johnson 1935 to 2020
Gordon was born in Repton on 1st June 1935 to Grace and Henry Frederick Johnson of Monsom Lane, Repton. He had two older brothers Reg and Dennis and a younger sister Eileen, all of whom are now deceased. Up until recently there was a Christmas tree outside their house in Monsom Lane which was planted by his father.
He earned a scholarship to Burton Grammar School and was brilliant at mental arithmetic. He was able to work out all the answers in his head without showing his workings and clashed with the teacher over this. When he finished at the school he threw his satchel and books into the brook.
As a young man Gordon was known to like a drink and on one occasion had to walk home backwards as he could not work out how to go forwards, after which he sat under the kitchen table and ate the pork pie which was intended for Christmas Day. He had quite a few tales about nights spent in the Red Lion and became great friends with Dora Bird the Landlady.
Gordon started work at Warner’s Farm at Brook End in Repton. He thought he might have a bit of a holiday after school, but his father said he had had enough holiday in his life, and he would be starting work in the morning. Following Warner’s, Gordon moved onto Skipper’s farm in Milton and then Sumner’s farm in Ingleby before the Screatons took over. He loved farming and kept pigs in the garden, but a corn dust infection forced him to give up farming and he moved back to Repton.
After a short period at Reynolds Chains in Burton, he started work for Trent Buses in the early 1970’s. Initially he started off as a driver and progressed to become a one-man operator and later took over the running of the Melbourne Depot. After the Melbourne Depot closed he moved to Derby, where he remained until he retired to have a replacement hip in 1997. Whilst driving his bus in 1980 he had a lucky escape when he was shot at by a random person taking pot shots from the roadside, it narrowly missed his temple hitting him in the ear.
Gordon met his wife Dorothy whilst having his appendix out, Dorothy was his Nurse and they married on the 7th of September 1957.
Whilst living in Milton they had many a happy night in The Swan, quite often returning in the early hours just before he had to go to work. After the couple moved to Ingleby to work for Geoff Sumner their son Andrew was born in March 1969, after which the family moved back to Repton around 1972.
Gordon loved his garden and carried out gardening jobs for various people in the village and beyond. He used to mow the public footpaths around the village with his scythe, and later went on to look after the war graves in St Wystan’s Church Yard. He was always happy to help people out and was always very conscientious about doing a job right. He was happy to talk about gardening, offer tips and advice, and give produce or flowers to family and friends. He enjoyed going to the Repton British Legion with his wife for the socials and the vegetable shows, and he also exhibited at the village show and at Branston.
One year during the auction of the produce, following the vegetable show at the Legion he went dressed as Blakey from “On the Buses”, “had a few too many”, and dropped a cake that was being auctioned. He enjoyed horse racing, having shares in racehorses and went to the Cheltenham Gold Cup for several years with his childhood friends.
In later years he enjoyed going to the lunch club and to the Evergreens, initially with Dorothy but latterly on his own, cycling down on his bike.
He was very proud of his grandson Daniel and all he achieved on the trampoline as part of the GB Squad. He loved to reminisce about times gone by in the village that he loved and where he spent most of his life, and to share his memories of Old Repton.
After Dorothy passed away two years ago he continued doing all his own garden, housework and cooking right up until he went into hospital. Even while in hospital he was telling the nurses his 13 times table backwards the day before he passed away.
Gordon was well known and respected in Repton and played a part in many peoples lives over the years. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends and it is hoped that when the situation allows they will be able to join together to raise a glass to ‘Gordon’.
Nancy Barnes 1927 – 2020
Nancy was born on 2nd June 1927 in Halifax, Yorkshire, to Arthur and Amelia Robertshaw and was the youngest of their 3 children, a sister to Peter and Margaret.
After the second world war she trained as a nurse becoming a staff nurse and later Ward Sister, working at both Derby and Burton General Hospitals. She met Vernon her late husband in 1949 and they married in March 1951 and had 2 sons Robert born in 1953 and Paul in 1958.
The new family lived on Spring Terrace Road in Stapenhill from 1952, before moving to Brizlincote Lane in 1957. Nancy stopped nursing to raise her young family, part of the postwar world, whilst her husband’s various businesses interests expanded. In 1971 she and Vernon moved to Repton with the family, and later lived in Newton Park in Newton Solney. She lived independently until her final days at Bainbridge Court in Ashby de la Zouch.
Latterly her extended family of 5 grandchildren increased when her first great grandchild Noah was born to Ella and Julian in 2019 just after her 92nd birthday. What a present!
There was a constant social drive to both family and business life during the 1960’s and 1970’s which she entered into with great style and energy, hosting parties, dinner dances, and many fundraising events to which her growing circle of friends were all invited. It was a period of intense activity in which, with her friends, she played a central role at various venues around the country, dancing elegantly and indefatigably into the small hours.
It was also a period of travel and new experiences abroad visiting Italy, The Balearic Islands, Croatia, Switzerland, France, America, North Africa, and most frequently Spain where she had a flat in Estepona on the Costa Del Sol from 1989. This became a social hub for the growing expatriate community and here she was able to further extend her circle of friends.
Her real passion however was bridge and she was a very accomplished player. She played regularly in Spain, Burton, Derby and latterly Ashby de la Zouch several times a week until Coronavirus brought that to an abrupt stop at the beginning of 2020. During the last months of her life she had begun to master playing online with partners from as far away as Denmark and Norway
Jonathan Langley 1955 – 2020
Jonathan known to many as ‘Lango’ or ‘Lobber’ lived in Repton all his life and was a popular figure, known as a man who ‘said it how it was’. After attending primary school in Repton he moved on to John Port school before working at Slater’s garden centre and Bexson’s builders. He later moved to work at Trent Alloys in Willington, later Calder Alumunium, and after being made redundant worked for UPS at East Midlands airport for over 20 years.
Always a fan of rock music as a young man he was into the motorbike culture, and not owning a bike himself could usually been seen out on the back of a mate’s bike, and there was an annual bikers’ trip to Blackpool.
Jon and Ros were married in 1980 after meeting in a local pub, the wedding of course taking place in March during the fishing close season, and the arrival of Sarah and Matt completed their family. Three years ago he was delighted by the arrival of a granddaughter, Alanamae, who became the apple of his eye.
Always a countryman he loved to fish and shoot. Every other weekend whatever the weather he would go fishing, often taking part in matches. He was part of a syndicate who fished at Smisby and previously had been water manager for the Old Trent water in Repton. Over the years he had also been actively involved with the Repton and District Angling Club, and both Burton and Derby Angling Associations.
He enjoyed meeting up with friends and had been a member of the Mount Pleasant darts team. Known always as someone who worked hard and would do anything for anybody without question, he was also a joker and enjoyed playing tricks on family and friends.
An outdoors man he could name any bird by listening to its call, knew the names of trees and enjoyed going to the Countryfile and game shows each year. Often after finishing work he could be found helping out on local farms, and there was not much he could not make out of wood whether it be an aviary, a chicken run or bird boxes.
The gentle giant has now ‘gone fishing’ and will be greatly missed by his family and many friends. A collection in his memory totalling £1,230 has been sent to the Air Ambulance, a charity whose work he supported.
James Le Flock 1958 – 2020
James was born on 27th November 1958 at home in West Norward, London where his parents, Jean and Lionel Le Flock ran a grocery store. His father was originally from Guernsey and the family, James and his two older sisters, returned to the island the following year. For the three children Guernsey provided a safe and secure environment allowing them all a great deal of freedom and access to the outdoors including the many beaches around the island.
Following the moon landings in 1969 James developed a lifelong love of all things related to space – as a child it was not unusual for his family to come down for breakfast to find him “glued” to the TV watching the space race. He was also always practical and from a young age spent many hours taking things apart and making models, time well spent when in later years he took to building replica ships.
Always hardworking at 18 James gained a place at Lanchester Polytechnic unsurprisingly to study engineering, on his first day there he met Hamish and Stuart and the three of them remained firm friends. Following completion of his Bachelor of Science degree in 1980 he went on to spend a year at Loughborough University in further study, before joining British Rail perhaps a surprising choice for a lad from an island which had no trains. It clearly suited him and he held various positions as a railway engineer for the remainder of his life, ultimately achieving the position of Chief Engineer at SNC Lavalin. From comments made by his colleagues he was a pleasure to work with and generous with his time especially to the younger staff, clearly he enjoyed both the work and the social life which came with it.
In 2011 James was elected a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, recognition of his skill as an engineer.
In 2006 James purchased a house in Milton and he came to love the home and the life he created there. He was welcomed into the life of the village, made many very good friends, and became a stalwart of the community heavily involved in all aspects of life in a small village not least the open gardens which he loved.
After many years of full-time challenging work James took early retirement, and although he continued to provide support for his colleagues as a Consultant he was taking the opportunity to spend more time at home and in his beloved garden, and to take holidays somewhere other than Guernsey.
James died suddenly and unexpectedly on 28 June 2020 following a catastrophic cardiac arrest. He will be much missed not only by his mother, sisters Jane and Linda and their families, but also by his many friends in Milton and the colleagues and friends he made over the years at work
Maurice Hodgkin 1927 – 2020
Maurice, an all-round sportsman lived at The Ridge, Bladon Houses, for over 50 years with his wife Patricia, a W.L.H.B exercise teacher.
Maurice started his football career even before starting school – having “borrowed” his dad’s boots, stuffing them with newspaper to fit, then off to Anglesey Road Recreation ground to play ‘footie’ with the big boys from Burton.
After starting school, it was obvious he loved – and was good at – all sports, and was soon chosen school captain. He went on to win a scholarship to Broadway Central School. After graduation he started an apprenticeship in engineering, only to see everything change in the last year of the war when he was drafted into the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm and was posted to Sri Lanka in the far east. Peace was soon restored, and on the way back home calling in at Trincomalee he met up with old school friends – Patricia’s brother Alfred, and Maurice Edwards who lived in Repton and who later became his best man.
Back home in Burton upon Trent, Maurice started work at the Town Hall in the finance department. He joined several local football teams before joining Burton Albion as a professional, making 117 appearances between 1952 and 1957, scoring 69 times.
In July 1954 he married Patricia at St Modwens RC church in Burton upon Trent
After his playing career ended, Maurice joined Peter Taylor as assistant manager at Burton Albion, and then went on to work for Brian Clough at Derby county on the club administration side.
After retiring, Maurice enjoyed many days at Bretby Golf Course, before developing dementia and moving into Cedar Court Care Home in 2019. He sadly contracted COVID-19 and passed away on Friday 15th May.
Russell Muir 1940 – 2020
Russell was born in Stockton on Tees to Scottish parents and was educated at Bramcote in Scarborough, Shrewsbury, and Queens’ College Cambridge where he read Mechanical Sciences.
After 4 years teaching at Brentwood School in Essex he arrived at Repton in 1968 to teach mathematics, a job he thoroughly enjoyed until his retirement. After 10 years as Head of Department he became Housemaster of New House in 1983 which was the high point of his career at Repton. During his 13 years there he was always keen to support his boys in whatever they were doing – on the sports field, at the art school, in the workshops, or on Sundays driving them to play golf locally or playing fives with them. After leaving the house he returned to full time teaching before retiring in 2000, after which he continued with maths tuition either at the school or helping those further afield if they were struggling with a subject that was often much needed for further education.
He was a keen philatelist specialising in Hong Kong stamps and their postal history.
He enjoyed hill walks either with his family, Kathleen, Nick and Katharine in the Welsh hills or the Lake District, or more challenging ones like the Pennine Way. Latterly he was to be seen walking his border collie Robbie around the village before he became unwell.
Above all he always looked forward to family gatherings with his 6 grandchildren either at home in Repton or at their house in Harlech, North Wales where the high spot would be peeling and eating the prawns the family had just caught in the pools locally. In later years the annual summer holiday was in North Cornwall when he would treat them to a mackerel fishing trip with the hope of a BBQ the same evening – so long as he didn’t have to cook! He and Kathleen were married in 1970 in St Wystan’s church with the reception in The 400 Hall. Almost 50 years later the wake was held there following a moving and uplifting Thanksgiving Service in The School Chapel