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John was head of religious education at Stratford High School in 1986

AT 1.14am on 11th October John Insoll died surrounded by family as a result of a rapid

Decline following a serious road accident with an HGV on 9th June whilst crossing the

Alcester Road.

John was born in July 1939 in Bristol and often relayed the story of how his grandmother

once had to throw him, a pram and all into a ditch and fling herself on top to avoid getting

gunned down by an enemy fighter pilot as they often would pick off civilians travelling

down the main road. After the war his family moved to Chippenham and then to Leicester

in 1950.

John Insoll.
John Insoll.

John was a wonderful singer and was offered a boarding school scholarship to sing in the

Cathedral choir which his mother declined much to his bitter disappointment.

He left school at 14 years-old and went to join his father working in life insurance sales.

At the age of 20, John went to West Germany to do his National Service in the RAF

as a nursing and physiotherapy assistant.

During this time he discovered a love of running which became a lifelong passion of his and he especially excelled at cross-country and long distance.

He loved his time in the RAF where his confidence had blossomed and he

became an ardent supporter of the Poppy Appeal collecting door-to-door for the rest of his


After his father died, John decided to pursue his passion for teaching by attending

evening school to gain the qualifications he needed to attend university.

In 1972 he attended Durham University to gain his Teachers’ Certificate, originally specialising in PE

before changing to religious education.

In his final year he met his wife Janet (13 years his junior) at a party and was besotted.

His started his first job in Portsmouth in 1974, whilst his future wife finished her chemistry degree.

They married in 1976 - during the height of the heat wave - and in 1978 moved to Nuneaton, where John became head of religious education at Ash Green School in Exhall and the father of three girls - Sarah, Rachael and Rebecca.

In 1983 he attended Warwick University part-time to gain his Bachelor of Education degree.

Following a school merger (and the lack of a requirement for two heads of department),

John moved to Stratford in 1986 to be head of religious education at Stratford High School and to raise his young family.

He joined Stratford Athletic Club and ran the high school athletics and

cross-country team as well as training his daughters.

Regrettably he suffered a long-lasting traumatic brain injury in a cycling accident with a

lorry which eventually resulted in him having to take early retirement in 1993.

He loved his job as a teacher and was very proud of his students and so having to give this up hit him


John was always an active part of the community, seen out cycling on his bike (he didn’t

own a car), participating in local church and choral choirs, and was very active in local politics.

In the early 1990s he was elected to the local town council and was a

very active member, doggedly fighting for his constituents and important local matters. He

was often seen out delivering leaflets or newspapers into his early 8os. He also used to

collect his local football pools back in the day.

John had a very strong Christian faith originally attending Stratford Baptist Church, then

later in life St. Andrew’s Church, Shottery and was involved in a lot of charity work and

collecting in the area, especially for Christian Aid, RNLI and the Poppy Appeal.

He liked to visit the elderly, lonely and vulnerable helping out wherever he could, especially with the

gardening and a friendly cup of tea.

John was a true gentleman. His friendly and generous nature, cheeky grin, unique dress sense

and eccentric personality will be missed as well as his cycling precariously around town with his big hat and beard.

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