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“For many years now John Bissell has sat, nursing a glass of white wine, in the windows of golf clubs the length and breadth of this country presumably reflecting on what Wodehouse described as ‘that varied, never-ending pageant that men call golf’. John has decided to retire as Midlands Regional Secretary in October of this year and the Regional matches, over a dozen of them in the season, will not be the same without his warm interest and enthusiasm and, above all, without his genial presence.
John was born in Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria and came to the Midlands in 1970 as Head of Management Services with the Pirelli Tyre Company. He moved into golf club management ten years later at the Craythorne Golf Club, Burton-on-Trent, before moving on to the Royal Blackheath Club. After Blackheath he became Secretary at Hadley Wood in Hertfordshire, Orsett in Essex and then back for a second session at Blackheath. From there he turned up at Craythorne again, retired from there in 1994, and twelve months later took over St. Thomas’s Priory Golf Club in Staffordshire supervising the building of the Clubhouse; the election of new members, and all the other details involved in setting up a new club. He retired again in 2001 but returned at the new owners request at the end of 2006 for a few months. It is dangerous to assert that this is his final retirement from Club management but he claims that it is!
John joined the then Association of Golf Club Secretaries in 1981, he became Regional Secretary for London and Home Counties for a four year period before moving to the Midlands where he has served as Regional Secretary for twenty years. He has served on the National Executive of the Association and was Regional Captain in 1998 but a major eye operation ended his playing days three years later.
It is his tenure as Regional Secretary that will stay in the minds of so many members. He has attended almost every fixture, his attention to detail has been remarkable and every Regional Captain has cause to be grateful for the way in which teams have been selected, place settings made for dinner, wine organised and everything done to make the occasions run smoothly. Again every Regional Captain will have shared in the occasional frustrations of the late withdrawals and the many emergency telephone conversations that have resulted, invariably conducted with a degree of stoicism that few others could muster.
One of the more delightful features of Midlands Regional fixtures over the years has been the presence of the wives of several of the participants who, marshalled by John’s wife Judy, have played in advance of the matches. Judy has supported John with enthusiasm and loyalty and her company has always been a delight. John and Judy have a son, a daughter and five grandchildren.
John’s record of retirement is such as to cast doubt over whether this is indeed the final one but, if there are to be no more comebacks, his record of service has been a remarkable one and an example to all. It is a measure of the modesty of the man that he declined to supply any photographs for this tribute. The trophies and the medals of the victors soon tarnish, and the laurel leaves fade, but the memory of distinguished and loyal service lives on in the hearts of the beneficiaries".
John sadly passed away in 2013; many of his friends and colleagues from the Midland Region paid their final respects at a service in Burton-on-Trent.