On 26 April a packed Parish Church, Enderby said goodbye to Mr John Lane, 78, a gentle giant of the community who made a long and lasting impression on the local and regional Scouting scene, the life and ethos of Brockington College and the church itself.
John’s relationship with Scouting spanned 70 years, beginning as a cub through to being treasurer of John’s Lee Wood Scout Campsite in the National Forest area, taking in District Commissioner for South-West Leicester and a visit to Buckingham Palace for services to Scouting. On moving to Enderby from Warwickshire in 1962, John came with such a reputation inside Scouting that he was recruited as a leader within 48 hours! John touched countless young lives and many made friendships along the way, and it was a sight to behold as around 50 Scout leaders and current Scouts formed a guard of honour at his funeral service.
It was a post teaching Science at Brockington College that brought John and his wife, Pamela, to the area, and John served as a member of staff at Brockington from 1962 to his retirement in 1999, continuing afterwards as a governor, having a key role in planning the new building. There is at least one case where John taught three generations of the same family. Tributes to John from former colleagues and pupils flooded in: “A lovely man”. “A true gentleman”. “A brilliant teacher”. “A big man in every sense”. One contributor summed John up especially well: “John was a man of integrity, always calm and always in control of his classes. He never raised his voice but there was something about him which commanded obedience and respect. He was a very caring and thoughtful person, like a very kind uncle, always a good listener and always concerned for your wellbeing.”
Although I only had the privilege of knowing John these past few years, John was a Christian leader in Enderby for some 50 years. He was one of the early leaders of what we would now call ‘A Fresh Expression of Church’ – a service which encouraged families to engage when other forms of church were very formal and wordy. He acting as a lay reader long before he assumed that title. He was a great support to many families in their bereavement, taking funerals in the parish. I know it meant a lot to John that his health stood up enough for him to lead the Remembrance service for the last time this past November – something he always did with appropriate dignity but with a common touch.
John got stuck into many other things too – even counting a stint at The Journal! His interests included bird-watching, bat conservation, camping and caravanning. John was so generous with his time, patient in imparting knowledge and passionate not only for his own interests but those of others. The teacher in him made him a great explainer. And he was flexible, positive and always open to ways to do things better.
Of course, first and foremost John was a family man. A husband to Pamela of 56 years, a father to Sue and Andrew and grandfather to eight. They are immensely proud of John – for his life and example of service – and hugely touched by the countless expressions of sympathy and support they have received.
Scouting, College and Parish Church are all planning ways to mark John’s colossal contribution and legacy to the community. But lest we solely look back to what has passed, we end by remembering that, as his family testified, John was so full of hope. And as we gave thanks to God for John’s life well lived at his funeral service, we read from the Bible to discover the ultimate source of John’s hope: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.” (1 Peter 1:3-4).
Mr Lane. R.I.P.
Rev Jerry Taylor, vicar of Enderby Parish Church, with contributions from others