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himself to work as a self-proclaimed ‘beach bum’ for a season! “I hired out pedalos and floats on the sand at Goodrington and really enjoyed being in the sun and getting a little attention from female visitors!” After that John worked for the Admiralty at Devonport and managed to find a historical side to the administrative job he was doing: “I loved unearthing key finds like glass port lights from the original Britannia which was moored at Dartmouth in 1863.” John’s next job was back in


Brixham, working for a boat repair business. He says a highlight of that


role was being allowed to travel to Europe, picking up Belgian trawlers


I like it when people take an


interest and ask lots of questions.


and sailing them back to Britain. But after eight years, at the age of 27, John was off again. By now it was 1967 and John had found the woman he was going to marry, Jenny. The couple actually met in


nursery school when they were just three. They went their sep- arate ways until a mutual friend reintroduced them. “Jenny was a teacher in Bristol and I was in awe of her and the work she did so I enrolled on a teach- ing course at Exeter.” His first teaching post was at Furzeham Primary School, Brixham. John then got a job teaching geogra- phy and history to teenagers at Dartmouth Secondary School. “My biggest problem was taming the third year girls! They saw a new teacher as a bit of a target and had the better of me a few times. I still see some of them around the town today and they always say hello!” John remembers taking classes down to Blackpool Sands for a dip in the sea and the time he took 12 students on a sponsored cycle to Normandy to raise money for the school’s first ever computer. “The students were welcomed into the town like heroes, as if they had just completed the Tour De France!” In the 1980s John set up a book business with his brother- in-law. Later he ran a bookshop in the Torquay Pavilion and a gift shop at Buckfast Abbey. But 10 years ago he stopped working so he could concen- trate solely on his walk and talks. He says he’s noticed quite a few changes since he started addressing the crowds over 30 years ago. “I’ve had to adapt with advancing technology. I used to use projectors and hundreds of slides, changing each one by hand! Now a computer does most of the work. I like it when people take an interest and ask lots of questions. I never feel nerv- ous and if there’s something I don’t know I’m honest. I could never know everything about our wonderful landscape; I’m learning everyday and things are changing all the time.”


Interview by Steph Woolvin


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