NEWQUAY came together to say farewell and celebrate the life of one of its most prominent figures last week.

The funeral of John Cuthill, who was ch..." />

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News Archive > General > Town´s farewell to John

Town´s farewell to John

By Beth Perry 17th July 2019

Town´s farewell to John
Photo: Beth Perry

NEWQUAY came together to say farewell and celebrate the life of one of its most prominent figures last week.

The funeral of John Cuthill, who was chairman of Newquay Rowing Club for 25 years, took place on Friday and hundreds of people came to pay their respects and reflect on his life and character.

John passed away on June 25 aged 83 and tributes poured in from around Newquay and the rest of Cornwall.

On Friday morning, John’s coffin was placed inside the Newquay gig, which is the oldest gig in the world, and led by John’s own Land Rover, the stalwart made one last visit to Newquay Rowing Club where he was met by a guard of honour as rowers, club members, and old friends used gig oars to welcome the Cuthill family.

As John’s coffin left the club, the crowd lowered their oars and clapped to thank and say goodbye to the man who had done so much for the club and gig rowing. Following a private committal for the family at Penmount Crematorium, a service of thanksgiving and celebration of the life of John Cuthill took place at St Michael’s Church in Newquay.

It is believed around 400 people attended the service which featured songs from the Rowing Club Singers and explored each part of John’s life, including his Army days, farming adventures and his explorations around the world, with friends stepping up to talk about their memories of John.

John was born in Falmouth on September 30, 1935, and grew up in Porth. He spent his childhood playing with friends on Porth Beach and learnt to row and sail at an early age.

John started his education in Newquay and from the age of 11 was a boarder at Queen’s College in Taunton where he quickly showcased his skill for swimming and became a confident medal winner. Along with the swimming, John also held a regular place in the first fifteen rugby team, both at school and then at Reading University.

Later John played for Redruth Rugby Club and supported the club well into his 80s, regularly attending matches and always sitting in the same seat in the stand.

When he returned to Cornwall during the holidays John worked hard on the farm at Trewollack.

One wet day John was given the day off so instead he made his way to Lusty Glaze Beach where he met his future wife Jenny.

John was also one of the last National Service recruits and decided to stay on in the Army as a way of getting paid to pursue his hobbies.

During his service John became a member of the Scientific Exploration Society and took part in several overseas expeditions to Ethiopia. Having moved to Middle Wallop with the Army Air Corps, John learnt to fly both fixed wing and rotary aircraft.

He was a quick learner and liked to show off by dive-bombing the garden of the family home as Jenny was sunbathing.

John also represented the Army in the first Whitbread Round the World Sailing Race in 1973/74 in Chay Blythe’s boat British Steel, facing tough conditions and he even survived the boat capsizing.

After his retirement from the Army, he returned to Cornwall and became the Head of Science at Redruth School.

Returning to Cornwall provided the opportunity for John to become involved once again with Newquay Rowing Club where he had raced pilot gigs as a boy. The rowing club was a hugely important part of John’s life and a highlight came in 1986 when he, as cox, won the Silver Gig in the Treffry.

Speaking at the service at St Michael’s Church, John’s long-time friend John Davies said: “Above all, John was a people person. He loved to talk and share tales and knew a lot of people. He was reliable, honourable and a good friend but, alove all, John was a very good man. I shall miss him.”

The eulogy for John had people crying, laughing and learning more about the man’s life and the church was filled with standing room only.

John’s wife, Jenny, said: “I had no idea so many people would be there – we have estimated it was about 400 people, which is unbelievable. Jane Kneebone, who is a long-time friend, held a lovely service and we had a resume about John’s life because a lot of people didn’t know what he did outside of the rowing club.

“It was lovely to see John’s friends from each part of his life stand up and talk about his days. Our granddaughters also stood up and read an extract from the book which was written about John. It really was a lovely service and a celebration of his life.”

By Beth Perry 17th July 2019

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