John Marshall 1929 – 2008
(Rollestonian Article - Autumn 2008)

The Autumn 2008 issue of “Rollestonian” reported the passing, this year, of yet another long-serving member of the local community. John Marshall’s name will not be found in a list of Borough or Parish councillors but his contribution to the life and fabric of the village will be long lasting.

John was, in the language of the Burton breweries, a “Norkie” (Norfolk man), who qualified as an architect , working at Derby Borough, Tutbury Rural District, Burton Borough and Lichfield City Councils and finally Nestlé.

On getting married to Brenda and joining Tutbury RDC in 1954, John immediately moved into a newly built house in Elizabeth Avenue (the house went with the job in those days!). John, however, soon bought his own plot of land and designed his own house at 1, Knowles Hill where he continued to live.
John was rapidly absorbed into Rolleston life and his architectural skills became well known to villagers – even if he could later be embarrassed by some of his “1960’s” extensions.

John was a staunch churchman and soon became a churchwarden serving through the incumbencies of Freddie Abbott, Philip Knight and Malcolm Birt, and with Erl Thornewill, being responsible for the selection of Ian Whitehead (they liked the look of the young lad!).He assumed responsibility for the church fabric and before the formation of the famed Forest of Needwood Youth Club, ran a very successful youth club, based at St Mary’s.

He was a trustee of the Rolleston Almshouse Charity for 34 years and its chairman for 18. He was also a trustee of the Rolleston United Foundation for 35years and its Chairman for 28.

John was a life-long scout. He became Chairman of Rolleston Scout Group and was chief architect for the Scout Headquarters, working closely with Mick Jacks, the Scout Group Leader, and sharing in the pride of the opening by Princess Anne.

Another architectural contribution was the extension to Rolleston Club, although John remembered ruefully that the air conditioning was installed the wrong way round and the opening night guests disappeared in a cloud of tobacco smoke!

John’s only brother, Peter, was a merchant seaman who was lost at sea in 1947 along with the rescue lifeboat. This started a working relationship with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. John’s face was familiar to many pub licensees in the district as a collector and he had a special relationship with the Bank in Tutbury where he would regularly struggle in with two heavy buckets of small change.

John was a nationalist and took responsibility for the village flagpole on the Spread Eagle island – he knew all the dates and. is expecting his son, Jeremy to follow the tradition. John could sometimes appear abrupt and controversial, but this was his way of trying to deal with perfection and the compromises of real life. He was in reality a kind and generous man and an anonymous benefactor to many causes. We send our sympathy to Brenda, Peggyanne, Jeremy and families.

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