12th April 1945 – 4th April 2017
John Heslop was admitted a Durham Freeman to the Curriers Company on 9th February 1987, was appointed Warden of the Company on the resignation of Michael Howarth in December 2001, and Chairman of the Wardens in succession to Alan Atkinson in January 2006.
He was a fine Warden, Colleague and Friend and always had the best interests of the Durham Freemen at heart.
The lead-up to the passing of the Local Democracy Act 2009 and the Equality Act 2010 meant a great deal of hard work from John, the engendering of goodwill – and good sense – in the application of the Acts to corporations such as the Freemen whereby women and men are enabled to be admitted to the Freedom on the same terms. It was quickly seen how important and beneficial to the good estate, let alone the numbers, of the Freemen the addition of women to the Freemen was to be.
John saw through the balloting procedures and their warm acceptance with total success. The day in February 2012 of the first admission of women to the Durham Freedom was a very happy one both for John’s family and for the Companies.
He enlarged the facilities of the Freemen to offer charitable funding to local causes which were relevant to their aims and objectives – aid to apprenticeships, acknowledgement of projects involving work and craftsmanship, projects which further the understanding of the historical continuity of effort and imagination in local society.
John was a prudent and fair-minded reformer, an encourager and an enabler and he promoted the recently established Freemen Charitable Trust with enthusiasm and care.
John was a keen networker and good communicator with the Freemen of England and Wales. But, of course, as a career teacher in County Durham, especially at Wellfield Comprehensive School at Wingate and an cause-advocate for the Association of Headmasters and Headmistresses, that was to be expected.
His clarity of thought and discretion were much appreciated in Freemen Meetings of Wardens and Trustees.
His family have always been a grand support for the Freemen.
John retired as Chairman of the Durham Wardens in 2016.
It has been a great shock to all that John sadly died on Tuesday 4th April 2017 in Spain, on holiday. R.I.P.