Lifelong theatre lover and war veteran passes away

John Woodhams
John Woodhams

A WAR veteran and lifelong theatre lover has died.

John Woodhams, who lived at Marlborough House in Warrior Square, St Leonards, passed away peacefully, aged 87 at St Michael’s Hospice in Upper Maze Hill.

He joined the RAF during the Second World War when he was 18 and trained as a navigator.

Mr Woodhams saw action in South Africa, Egypt and Italy. He also flew more than 10 missions in converted American B24 Liberator bombers over southern Germany.

During his time in service the pensioner developed his lifelong passion for the theatre, especially comedy, and loved to entertain his fellow troops.

Mr Woodhams also showed a particular talent for script writing and was awarded the 50-year-award by the National Operatic and Dramatic Association (NODA) in 2008 for his contribution to amateur dramatics for acting, writing, directing and helping behind the scenes.

Mr Woodhams, who died on Wednesday, October 5, was made an honorary lifelong member of the Hastleons in 1994, having joined the group in 1961.

He was also a member of the Nalgo Players and joined the Stables Theatre as an active member in 1959.

The pensioner would also annually compere the Remembrance Day service at the White Rock Theatre.

His other main passion was cricket and was a regular member of the RAFA cricket team, and later became a vice president of Clive Vale Cricket Club.

His finest hour was being awarded the Order of 1066 medal for services to the town in 1996.

Mr Woodhams also worked for many years as a jeweller in Eastbourne, specialising in the valuation of antique silverware.

His daughter, Julie Wooller, said: “It is the fun and laughter my father brought to his friends and family which will be his greatest legacy.”

Mr Woodhams’ funeral was held at Blacklands Church on Wednesday, October 19 before a private service at Hastings Crematorium.

He is survived by daughter Julie, his son Michael, son-in-law Barry, ex-wife and friend Sylvia, grandsons Alex, Sam, George and adopted son Peter.

Mrs Wooller said: “We would like to extend our deepest gratitude to all the staff at St Michael’s Hospice for the wonderful care they gave to my father in the final weeks of his wonderful life.”