John Best

John Best has been a valued member of the society for more years than I care to remember, he was a member when I joined and that was nearly 20 years ago! I first met John on a trip to the chalk pit at Cuxton and I immediately took to this quiet spoken man, a true gentle giant. In the early days most fossil trips were small affairs, and usually it was only John, his son James, Tony and myself who attended. The photo shows the us on a trip to Somerset in 1987. Many, many more trips followed and often John would accompany me in my car, he was always great company to have on a long journey. He would relate tales of his past, for instance, the museum he had as a child borrowing items from neighbours and the time he was left at the wheel of an Oil Tanker heading up the Thames . I have fond memories of an away trip to Dorset one March, the weather was superb, like summer. Tony and James were also there and we all stayed in a small B&B. On one visit Tony and I headed off round the coast and John and James were a long time catching up. When they eventually arrived it turned out that they had taken a short cut across a river and ended up thigh deep in mud! John always seemed to prefer going on trips with others, but once he surprised us all and appeared one Wednesday night with a huge fossil Nautilus he had found in a Ragstone quarry.

John never said an unkind word about anybody, and he was always ready and willing to help out in any way he could. He could always be relied upon to be there with his van to transport the club stand to events like the Dickens Festival, despite having to immediately head off to work afterwards. On several occasions he helped me out with the van when I needed to transport large items from one place to another, my mum in law still has the shed that he moved for me! At committee meetings he hardly ever said a word, but his presence will be greatly missed, perhaps all the more so for this. He was very thoughtful and often asked me to send his regards to my parents, who he had met only a few times, he always sent them a Christmas card which they appreciated a lot. They were so very saddened by his sudden death as we all are. I know that Wednesday nights will never be the same without John saying to me “How are you, everything under control?” My thoughts are with Joyce and the rest of his family at this very difficult time and I would like to say to them, that John was the kindest, most likeable man that I have ever met, I will miss him terribly.

You were ‘Simply the Best', John.

Gary Woodall.