Mr John Leigh.
A FORMER mayor of Cowes, industrial chemist, teacher and yachtsman, John Leigh, has died, aged 82.
Born in Cowes and educated on the Island and at Southampton University, Mr Leight worked for BP at Sunbury-on-Thames as an industrial chemist, following his two years’ National Service.
But he missed sailing so much he returned to Cowes and started at Saunders Roe in 1954 as a chemist. His work included the Black Knight rocket programme.
He married Ada Falvey a year later and started teaching in 1962 at Bembridge School, where he remained until his retirement in 1992. He taught maths and physics and was known for his great enthusiasm, often devising and making his own equipment.
He was a member of the Island Sailing Club since 1954 and sailed as much as four times a week, mainly in X-boats, until he was 60.
Mr Leigh worked in the Cowes Week Regatta Office for about 30 years, for half that time as chief information officer. He continued his involvement with sailing as a member of Cowes Town Regatta until this summer.
He played rugby in his younger days and took up bowling when he retired. He was a founding member of Last of the Summer Wine team.
For many years he was a member of the IW Arts Society and Trinity Theatre, often taking character and comedy roles. He was also a member of Somerton Singers.
He joined Cowes Town Council in 1995 and was the town mayor from 1999 to 2001.
He was the first mayor to wear the mayoral chain he helped design and during his term he was responsible for creating Cowes Skate Park, pushed to get the popular seats installed on the front edge of the Green and he served as nominated member of Cowes Harbour Comm-ission.
He continued to take an interest in scientific advances, was well read in the field and gained an Open University science degree in 1983. He was also a skilled DIY enthusiast.
Well travelled, he spent many holidays in Monaco visiting his mother’s family.
A fluent French speaker, he was occasionally called upon as a court interpreter, notably at the trials after the 1970 IW Pop Festival.
He accompanied his wife when she was mayor of Medina Borough Council, assisting her in many of her duties, including visits to Royal Yacht Britannia and meeting several members of the royal family.
He was a lifelong member of St Thomas of Canterbury Catholic Church in Cowes, serving first as an altar boy then later teaching Latin to the younger boys. He was latterly appointed a special minister.
He leaves his widow, three children — Jacqueline, John and Richard — and three grandchildren.
The funeral service takes place at St Thomas of Canterbury RC Church, Cowes, at 1.30pm on Wednesday.