The last time I saw John was five years ago at our own 50th anniversary of being in business which was held at Bolton School in their very impressive corporate function suite. Even then, confined to a wheel chair and in poor health, he still managed to entertain his table and maintain his very warm charm and charisma which many people in the baking industry had come to know and love so well.
The first time I saw John in all his extravagant charismatic style was at one of the earlier G-Mex bakery exhibitions in Manchester. Then as a new boy, holding on to my own dad`s shirt tails and walking respectfully just behind. As we passed the Reynard`s exhibition stand, there was an almighty shout by John of, “Allan!”
John came running off his stand, knelt down in front of my dad, his arms up in the air and then started to bow, repeatedly shouting, “Oh Master!” and of course everybody laughed with him as the two business friends caught up with a good chat putting the world to rights.
Another similar incident where John was, shall I say, displaying his gregarious side of his character, was at the Hotel Barbican, London. Again it was at an exhibition at the Barbican exhibition Centre, which I seem to remember had the design of a multi-level car park. My father and I were just arriving at the hotel by taxi, we were met by John who was running a slightly out of breath, saying, “Good God Allan you’re not stopping here are you” “Why?” my father asked. “The food is really awful,” he replied. “I`ve put my meal in this jiffy bag and I am running after to catch the Hotel manager to show him how bad it is.”
John was actually chasing the manager all around the hotel with his meal in a padded envelope! What a true character, they certainly did break the mould.
John was a unique character in our trade, strictly an allied trader being in packaging; however he knew more about what was going on and where, and with his strong sense of business acumen managed to start and develop a very much respected and profitable business from nothing, that kind of talent is so rare it is almost priceless. He started off just over forty years ago in Middleton, near Manchester supplying packaging and cake decorations to the baking industry. However as his business grew the baking industry was contracting, therefor John entered many other markets that needed his product, and soon became a national supplier by opening four other depots around Britain to cope with his business demands. His generosity and “nose” for a good business deal led him to help fund a well-respected ethnic supermarket here in the North West, I am sure that gesture laid foundation for many happy years of trading between both very successful businesses.
Like all the true great characters that have lately passed, they were the entrepreneurs that saw a market before anybody else, they believed in themselves, and by their shear hard work manage to carve out an empire that have not only sheltered their own family but that also of many others that had the good fortune to work with and also learn from them.
The great also leave behind family and of course their successors to carry on and take forward their work in their own style. May I take this opportunity to pass on my sincere condolences to Alan and all his family, and I am sure somewhere up there, John is continuing to entertain and look for new markets, well and angel cake and harps need packaging don`t they?