A second world war veteran who won the county cup with Keswick during the greatest era in his hometown rugby club’s history has died aged 97.
John Hume, of Threlkeld, served with the tank regiment in Egypt, India and Burma before, at the age of 34, becoming head teacher at Lazonby School where he remained until retiring in 1978.
Born in 1922 at Keswick’s Crown Inn on Main Street, which his parents ran, John had been married to Ena for nearly 70 years until she died in 2016.
A great-grandfather, John had a lifelong love of the outdoors, his family having connections to the sister of legendary huntsman John Peel. The retired head teacher, who died peacefully on Tuesday, was a keen supporter of the Blencathra Foxhounds and for the last 45 years has kept his own pack of beagles.
John was very well-known in Keswick, as is his family, son David having taught at Crosthwaite Junior School. Besides David, John is survived by his daughters Anne and Kathryne and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
He had a sister Frances and brother Derwent and, as the oldest, John did a lot of the work behind the scenes in the family pub as his father died when John was only 12. As a Boy Scout, he had the honour of lighting a bonfire on the top of Skiddaw for the 1935 jubilee celebration after being chosen for making the most trips to the summit laden with bonfire material.
At the start of the 1939-45 war, John was in the final year of school and he helped the Home Guard, firstly as an overnight runner taking messages from the police station to the drill hall before being promoted to guard duty on Thirlmere Dam.
Along with several other young men from Keswick School, including Tash Noon, Archie Evans and Howard Sanderson, he attended St Mark and St John College for teacher training. The college had transferred from London to Cheltenham because of the war and and John soon enlisted in the army.
At the end of the war, he returned to Keswick with Ena. John held several teaching posts in primary schools of West Cumberland before becoming head teacher at Lazonby. While there he founded the local Young Farmers’ Club and was the driving force behind the building of the village swimming pool. He was granted a life membership of the pool and every summer, up to last year, he enjoyed a swim there.
John won the long-distance race at Keswick School swimming gala from the Isthmus and round Derwent Island and he played 200 games for Keswick during the club’s golden age when it won the county cup six times in nine seasons after the war. He represented Cumberland and Westmorland, team-mates saying John was “vigorous, energetic, all knees and elbows!”
After moving to Lazonby, he played for Penrith and was their oldest player in their first-ever county cup winning side in 1960. On retirement, John bought a barn at Threlkeld and converted it to a house largely by himself.
Only last month did he retire as secretary/treasurer of the Recreation Field committee. Latterly he enjoyed looking at the Facebook pages of Old Keswick and contributing anecdotes.
There will be a private funeral service because of the lockdown rules but a gathering of friends and family will be arranged when travel restrictions allow.