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John Cottrell - A Tribute

The following obituary was first published in the October 2009 edition of SIXappeal (no. 169).

John Cottrell, former Editor of SIXappeal, died July 15th 2009

John Cottrell, 1943-2009

John Cottrell
December 4th 1943 to July 15th 2009

John Cottrell, the former editor of SIXappeal, passed away in July after a brave battle against cancer. He became ill last year; at first, his treatment seemed to be working and as recently as February he was very positive about the future. Sadly though, life doesn’t always work out the way you hope or expect.

John was a very private person. When he made friends he kept them, as was evident from the number of people from his early life who attended his funeral. He had a variety of interests apart from cars; railways, canals, music and walking to name just a few.

John was a member of that fast-disappearing species – the true English Gentleman. I never heard him speak badly of anyone and he always had exactly the right words to put his views and thoughts forward with out causing alarm or offence. His quiet sense of humour was also much appreciated, as was his depth of knowledge of things mechanical.

John joined the Register almost as soon as it started (he was member number 35), but at first, as was his style, he kept very much in the background. He was an active local group member, and made the occasional valuable contribution to the magazine. That all changed in 2000, though, when a new editor for SIXappeal was needed and John stepped forward to offer his services.

He went on to edit 56 magazines, roughly a third of the total to date and far more than any other editor. John went about the job with typical quiet thouroughness, producing a magazine that was the envy of other, larger car clubs. The Register can proudly boast that it has always provided six excellent magazines a year for its members, and never missed an issue, again something that many clubs cannot say.

Issue 112 (April 2000) was John’s first, and he introduced himself thus:

“I am an early retired schoolteacher and have an understanding, car orientated wife. I have been a car addict (for our younger members that means ‘petrol head’) since I was old enough to charge round the school playground screaming “brmm brmmm”. Cars tend to be members of the family and stay with us for years. My first was an Austin A40 Devon, A Vauxhall FB Victor followed, then came the 2000 MkII, everyday car for 19 years and hardly a day off the road; still A1 mechanically and I still get a thrill every time I drive it. A car for me is for go, not for show – I don’t want a car too precious to take out in the rain.”

John usually did his own maintenance, as can be seen from his many useful, well informed and interesting technical articles. Eventually John had his 2000 restored to near new condition; he continued to enjoy driving and maintaining it.

John’s funeral was an extremely moving event, and very well attended. Many of his friends from the Register were there. The funeral procession was a sight to behold, with a long line of classic cars, mostly Triumphs but there was also an 1100, a Jaguar and a Mini Cooper.

John, typically, wanted to be remembered in a positive way. I think that the following text, which was one of the readings at his funeral, says it all:

Death is nothing at all,
I have only slipped away into the next room.
I am I, and you are you;
whatever we were to each other, that, we are still.
Call me by my old familiar name,
speak to me in the easy way which you always used,
put no difference in your tone,
wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Let my name ever be the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect, without the trace of a shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was, there is unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner.
All is well.

Henry Scott Holland, Canon of St. Paul’s Cathedral

Goodbye, John, for now. Thank you for being there for all of us.

Andy Roberts/Alan Crussell

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