car from Camberley: “I caught the train and got to this big compound on the outskirts of town at about 5pm. I was tired and hungry and was so keen to get home I didn’t bother reading the note on the windscreen, I just presumed it said sold. Only a few miles along the road I ground to a halt and the bonnet was steaming (the note said no water!). Luckily I stopped near an army barracks and the sergeant sent a cadet with water. However, when it went in it came straight out the bottom! I sorted it and off we went but it stopped again on a country road. This time I had to find a stream and use an old milk carton to fill her up. When I finally got near Dartmouth the battery cut out. I never said a word about it to my boss as I was young and eager to please!”

John enjoyed that job but

after a year or so he wanted to try something clos- er to home, so he went to see Mr Ferris of Premier Garage near Deer Park in Stoke Fleming. “He took me on straightaway and always called me ‘boy’!” After a pleasant stint there John got a job at a garage right on the front, near the cottage hospital and soon met the love of his life, Sandra: “It was at a dance in Stoke Fleming Village Hall. I think it was my rock and roll that won her over, I was a bit of a mover in those days!” They got a house on Mashford Avenue and it wasn’t long before first daughter Nicola came along. “When she was small I would walk her to the swing park and I often bumped into the foreman at Dartmouth Council. Each time I would ask if there was a job going. “I always fancied working for a local authority, you know - more shillings per hour and all that!” One day he said there was a vacancy for a mechanical sweeper driver. I soon progressed through the ranks and travelled all across the South Hams. I loved having my own independence and made a lot of friends on my rounds. I would start early in the mornings doing the litter bins where I’d come across odd things which people had thrown away. I once found a beautiful wooden barometer!”

He did the job for about 30 years, during which time he and Sandra had two more daughters, Donna and Carla. Then one night, in 2005, he heard on the radio that the Dart Marina Hotel was looking for staff and popped down to get a form. “For a while there was no reply and I thought ‘fair enough like’ wasn’t as if I had any hospitality experience. But a few weeks later I was asked to go for an interview and I got a front of house job. I’ve been there for 15 years now and spend my time taking bags to and from rooms, giving out the daily newspapers, talking to guests and helping them with anything they want to know; from directions to

facts about Dartmouth.” John is a font of knowledge about the town, he loves learning about its rich history and seems to soak up facts and dates like a sponge. He says he has seen a lot in his 70 years and he

“People on holiday are mostly jolly and talkative and there is so much to learn about where they have come from and where they are going next.”

doesn’t forget much! He likes the job because there are happy people all around him - staff and guests. “People on holiday are mostly jolly and talkative and there is so much to learn about where they have come from and where they are going next.” He enjoys being the curator of the little touches which make people’s stay more memorable - opening the door for guests or making sure he is there ready with an umbrella when a lady steps out of her car. It is clear John takes pride in his work whether that’s emptying a dustbin or carrying a bag for a foreign prince, in fact John has made such an impression on guests at the hotel over the years they have given him various unoffi-

cial titles; ‘the face of the hotel’, ‘the heart of the hotel’ and ‘the lovely man who stands by the door!’ He takes all the kind words to heart but says he is simply doing his job. He finishes by saying he has had a happy life and is very content. “I’ve got three beautiful girls and the best wife anyone could hope for who has made me happy for half a century.”

Tel 07967 143891

Christmas Trees For a freshly cut tree from a local source visit Bugford Nurseries. They have a great selection of needlefast firs and traditional spruces ranging from 3ft – 20ft.

Most of the trees are grown on Dartmoor, or at their on-site plantation and they offer a free netting and delivery service to the local area as well as pot grown trees, holly wreaths and stands. For the full festive experience you’ll find the nursery just two miles outside of Dartmouth, turning left after Norton Park. If it’s a traditional spruce you’re after then take a wander, find your perfect tree and have it cut for you, fell it yourself or dig it up as preferred.

With everything at unbeatable prices, you’ll think Christmas has come early!

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