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John Humphreys – Tributes

With the premature death of John Humphreys we have not only lost one of the great characters of British shooting, but one of its greatest writers. I shot with John some years back and he made me laugh again and again. A very happy day. More recently, I was speaking with him on the phone. Like many others, I just can’t believe that he has gone. It is especially touching to see some of the comments made by his ex-students and younger people who he influenced and brought into the country sports that he loved so much. We will miss you John, but you have left your mark. Shooting Times will never be quite the same. MICHAEL YARDLEY

I was lucky enough to know John as we lived locally, he was someone that gave so much to those that knew him across several generations. He taught my wife and her brother at Bottisham Village College and he was a long standing supporter of Bottisham Young Farmers Club, where his wise sage words often steered us along the correct path. His teaching background set him at ease with young and old, holding court with tales of the Fen and other countryside adventures. His tales are well documented in the books that he wrote, but they never matched up to hearing them told first hand. He dealt with his recent illness with a great deal of bravery and dogged determination and we will all miss him. Our condolences and best wishes to Angela and the rest of the family. IAN GOULD

Very sad; a treasure lost. I’m certain he set many, many people along the right path and hopefully someone will pick up the torch he so willingly carried and continue to show us that there is more to our beautiful sport than just killing. GARY TATE

Sad news about John Humphreys passing after his battle with cancer. His column was always the first one I turned to every week with his knowledge of all things concerned with country sports he will be a hard man to replace. My thoughts are with his family at this sad time and to all at Shooting Times magazine. WILLIAM SMAIL

Roaring Emma and Country Gun will live on… JH’s wordsmithing and wonderful recounts of pleasurable days in the field drew me well and truly into the world of shooting. John, thank you. TILLY HARVEY

A very sad loss and John will be sadly missed. He gave me some valuable advice a fair few years ago and for that I will forever be grateful. I always enjoyed the craic when our paths crossed and he was one of a few people who made me realise that what we do isn’t just about numbers or the end result but how we gained them and got there. The people who have helped or hindered us along the way and our animals. We rely on them so much, they work their heart out for us in horrendous conditions at times. The weather or funny, quirky incidents that happen but can so easily be forgotten about. All ingredients that go together for a good scribble or banter over the beer. John Humphreys spawned a new generation of “fieldsport” writers, participants and converts through his words, wisdom and wit. I am sure many great eulogies will appear for he had “that” presence and aura that only a few are blessed with. SIMON WHITEHEAD

A sad loss to the Sporting world. John had dignity to the end and I offer my condolences to his wife and family, he was a truly great man, we will all miss him greatly. IAN MUNROE

Just heard the very sad news of John Humphreys death, he will be sadly missed. MARJORIE WATSON

I called my friend Peter to tell him the sad news about John’s passing. We both grew up waiting for the Shooting Times each week to read the stories of the “old characters”, Gough Thomas, Arthur Cadman, BB, Colin Willock and also of the relative youngster, John himself. As our legends gradually passed on, it was always reassuring to know that John still was there, a man whose knowledge, experience and humour was deeply rooted in his beloved hunter’s fenland. His descriptions of wildfowling, of dawns and dusks in all weathers, of the myriad fowl and waders, of wise old dogs and big guns and black powder and lead shot and of the “old characters” of his youth, left us there, awed in spirit, week in week out. Peter’s words to me were simple but profound ” You and I are fast becoming the old characters Mark, but never as good as JH. His stories inspired me as a youngster.” John truly was and through his writing still is, an inspiration. MARK BUTLER

So sorry to hear John humphreys has lost his fight with cancer, my condolences to his family. KEVIN KERLEY

Condolences to the Humphrey family, top man will be sadly missed. PETER ASHWORTH

So saddened to hear of John’s death. MARK JONES

A sad day indeed. John was a countryman through and through. His writing was captivating, his humour delightful, his company engaging and his knowledge broad and deep. He will be sadly missed. My heartfelt condolences to Angela and the family. MARK HINGE

John Humphrey’s is the only man that made me cry. He once wrote a story about his black lab that had to be put down due to cancer, the way he wrote that story I felt his pain and blubbed like a child. he gave me 14 years of enjoyable reading god rest his soul! MARK HIBBLE

Sad to hear of the death of John Humphreys. Love the column, usually the first thing I would read. Real knowledge and funny with it. RIP JOHN. TAM PETRIE

Such a sad loss, I only sent you an email few days ago, just a tad late for him he will be missed. MALCOLM MORRIS

Really sad to hear the news of John?s passing a great loss to shooting and the countryside. I grew up reading John?s weekly contribution in shooting times and enjoyed his many books. A true country/ sportsman. RIP John and condolences to his family he will be greatly missed. JOHN MCCOUBREY

Its a sad day, John’s columns were brilliant…his book the “Complete Gundog” has changed the way I think about gundogs and training a real loss of a great man who loved our sport so much. John Humphreys R.I.P. DAMIAN INCH

I have only just learned of the death of John Humphreys. Too often these days, the word ‘legend’ is used to describe those who don’t deserve it. I believe however, that Mr. Humphreys was exactly that. R.I.P. John. JULIAN SCHMECHEL

So sad to hear that John has passed away, he always made me smile when I read his articles. He came across as a real gentleman and it so very sad for his family and colleagues. May he rest in peace. ANNIE ROBINSON

We have lost a great man, and a great champion for the sport. For a young man coming into shooting John was an inspiration, and I am extremely saddened by his passing. My heartfelt condolences are with his family. Rest in Peace John Humphreys, you will be missed. SAMUEL MORGAN

Sad loss of a great countryman, although I did not know John personally it seems like a loss of an old friend. Our thoughts are with John’s family and friends. VIC AND HELEN LAMB

So terribly sad. John brought a great deal of pleasure to many countrymen and he will be greatly missed. Perhaps Shooting Times could produce a tribute book of some of Johns articles. Now that would be a nice way of remembering a true gentleman. STEVE SAPSTEAD

A very knowledgeable and nice guy, always read the country gun column in shooting times first. A very good host of the Fenland country fair with his witty commentary & I have a lot of his books. John will be very sadly missed by everyone. Condolences to his family & friends. CARL TOMBLIN

Never met the man, only knew him through his column, but enjoyed his words every week, and I will miss reading them. God Bless John, go in peace and comfort. Condolences to all his family and friends. LUCY ANN WILSON

I knew John from his days at Bottisham Village College. A lovely man, a real gent and countryman, a sad loss to shooting sadly missed. NIGEL SWEENEY

Having shot with John on his Fenland shoot for a number of years I always found him to be a great man. He will be sadly missed by all family and many many shooting friends. Rest in peace John. ADRIAN PINK

Thoughts to his family! A true lover of field sports. JASON BUTLER

Grown up reading this man tales since I was 5 and I am now 43 a very sad loss. Thoughts are with his family. ROBERT PEACOCK

Sadly Missed. Best wishes to all his famly. DAVID FREEMAN

A great loss to the shoot community. John will be greatly missed by all I am sure. PHIL SKENE

Very sad news. John’s pages in the Shooting Times always made me smile and he was a very knowlegeable man. He’ll be sat up there now with Gough thomas, Lee Mcnally, Fred J Taylor and the rest – all telling their tales. Rip john you will be missed. PEE WORTHINGTON

I, amongst many many others was very saddened to hear of the passing of John Humphreys. Over the years I have had some very memorable times spent in John`s company at various Game Fairs, the Fenland Fair and consider myself very privileged to have spent a very memorable day in his sole company being shown his Lord`s shoot and more especially his beloved Hunters Fen. He was indeed an inspiration to us all with his keen wit and of course his wide knowledge of country matters. The Game Fairs and especially the Fenland will never be the same. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to Angela, sons David and Peter and their families. John, rest in peace my friend. CHRIS SKINNER

It was with such sadness we heard of the loss of another shooting great John Humpheys, our thoughts are with his family, he will be sadly missed. NICK & BERNADETTE GEORGE

I never met John, but very much looked forward to reading his column every week in the Shooting Times. His love of the countryside and his ability to impart his knowledge, opinions and memories was unique in that he had the ability to inspire and entertain with the cosy rapport a fireside chat with a favourite uncle. You’ll be missed John. PAUL DUNLOP

During my 20 years as an editor at David & Charles publishers I worked with a wide range of authors in the countryside, equestrian and outdoor activity fields. I was in that fortunate position of being able to take on John?s proposals and work with him to produce many successful titles, such as Tales of the Old Poachers and Hunter?s Fen, in collaboration with artists John Paley and Philip Murphy. Working with John could never be classified as ?work?: each new commission would, I knew, be a joy in that I would be ?working? with a man who was hugely competent, completely professional, and right at the top of his game (and also a great deal of fun!). I am deeply saddened by the news of his passing. John: you were one of the best authors and best people I have ever come across. My love and thoughts go to Angela and the family. SUE VICCARS (formerly Hall)

Can I take this opportunity via your magazine to pass my condolences to John’s family. Your magazine has been deprived of a great man far too soon. However his weekly column was, for me, the highlight of the magazine. He will be missed. ALAN CLARKE

I, amongst many many others was very saddened to hear of the passing of John Humphreys. Over the years I have had some very memorable times spent in John`s company at various Game Fairs, the Fenland Fair and consider myself very privileged to have spent a very memorable day in his sole company being shown his Lord`s shoot and more especially his beloved Hunters Fen. He was indeed an inspiration to us all with his keen wit and of course his wide knowledge of country matters. The Game Fairs and especially the Fenland will never be the same. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to Angela, sons David and Peter and their families. John, rest in peace my friend. CHRIS SKINNER

Really saddened to hear the news of John’s passing. I was lucky enough to have met him a couple of times at the Game Fair. What a lovely man!
Country Gun was the first page I turned to each Wednesday. My thoughts are with Angela and the entire family. Rest in peace John. NIGEL CARPENTER

I am very saddened to hear this news of John’s passing… John used to teach me at Secondary School, Bottisham Village College some 25/30 years ago – where he was Deptuy Headmaster / Teacher. He ran a Fishing / Country Club @ the Village College of which I was a member. We used to go on great fishing trips – Pike fishing in the Winter on the Local River & in the Summer we had excellent evening Carp trips to a nearby lake. One such Summer evening prompted him to write an article in Shooting Times & Country Magazine. He used to give us Fly Tying demostrations & let us all try our hand at making some weird & wonderful Trout / Pike lures. I have many fond memories of my school life, spent in class & on the river/lake bank in his company with all his excellent tuition & many Countryman tales. More recently I have been encouraged to actively join the Shooting Community in the guise of a Beater, together with my 2 Sons & trusty pet Cocker Spaniel Alfie I gained my first SG certificate only a couple of years ago & I have enjoyed a few Beaters Days plus a fair few Clay Shooting days His teachings have helped me enjoy & appreciate the Countryside & it’s inhabitants to a greater extent. I will miss your column in Shooting Times Magazine with all your words of wisdom.
The loss of a great Sportsman / Countryman / Teacher / Jazz Trumpeter / Author / Columist – A truly talented & knowledgeable man, true gent. Rest in peace Country Gun…. Sympathies to Angela, David, Peter & Families. SIMON SPARKS

We will all miss John dearly even though I always called him Mr Humphreys, as not only was he an excellent writer of the shooting magazine he also was an excellent teacher at BVC. One memory was when he brought in his gun dog showing up how to work her, my first taster of the sport, then got hooked. A great treasured memory. RIP Mr Humphrey and my sincere sympathy to your family at this difficult time. LESLEY LEWIS

Rest in Peace Mr Humphreys. My thoughts go out to his family and friends. His weekly column, was one of many reasons to inspire to start shooting and now pursue a career in Gamekeeping. ANDY CARR

The epitome of a true fieldsportsman and gentleman. The manner and fortitude with which he fronted up to his terminal illness was totally in character. He made us all proud of him. RIP. PETER STEPHEN

John’s ever ready smile and cheerful greetings will be missed. So sad, the village feels empty without him. Condolences to Angela and family. KAREN G

It was with great sadness that I learnt last week of the passing of John Humphreys. I never had the pleasure of meeting with John but feel that through his column I knew him. This is testament to the man and how his skill of writing and personality extended far beyond his own circle of friends. John will be sorely missed. My thoughts go out to Johns family. I am sure that on every shooting field a country gun will be looking over us and dispensing his wisdom. RIP John. ROY LANE

Came home at lunch today (weds) to have a quick look at my Shooting Times, or “The Shooter” as John called it, to see the sad news that john had lost his battle with cancer. I had the pleasure to sit and listen to John at a meeting of the Leicestershire Wildfowlers a couple of years ago. Please pass on my condolences too all of john’s family and friends. May he rest in peace, where all the morning flights are successful and he never misses that storming pheasant. RIP John. ANDREW MADDOCK

I’m the type of person that would stand toe to toe with any man. But when I read John Humphreys last article, I cried. Simple as that. God bless John & his family. BARRY LUCKHURST

The news of John Humphreys passing came as a shock that moved me to the core. His last post to us as countrymen was the perfect way to say goodbye and fills me with pride in the way countrymen conduct themselves as advovcates for our varied sports. As a keen angler I enjoyed his tales of angling escapades that didn’t brag of huge catches and momentous successes; but of the reality of taking part in an activity that pitches our wits against a natural and wily adversary. John Humphries wrote with a beautiful style that allowed us to recollect our own escapades in the countryside, whilst being cocooned within our suburban lives itching for the opportunities that present themselves in our leisure time. May he rest in peace in the next world armed with gun, rod and binoculars to fulfill the dreams of all countrymen to enjoy our rural utopia and live life to the full. PETER GREENHALGH

Like thousands of other shooting men and women I was deeply saddened to hear initially of John’s illnes and his recent death. Although I was not personally aquainted with him,I saw him at various shows and had a long affinity with him, as we were of a similar age and through his long running articles and books. We were both young men,from a rural background, in the halcyon days of shooting during the early sixties when you could walk through the village with an uncased gun (closed) and the only comment was to ask if you had a good day’s sport. A time when the local bobby instead of calling out the helicopter,simply reprimanded me for shooting partridges in January when they were paired up! A time in the mid seventies when a team of eight of us killed 33 brace of wild English partridges all for the princely sum of a fiver for the beaters! From his wonderfully descriptive writing it was obvious that John enjoyed similar experiences and his column in Shooting Times was always the first one I turned to as a distant friend and companion.He will will be greatly missed and my sympathy goes out to his wife and family at this sad time. ROD TAYLOR

I never had to good fortune to meet John Humpreys but read his column in the Shooting Times avidly since I was a teenager taking up shooting many moons ago. We have lost a great countryman, a champion for field sports and a very talented writer. One of my shooting friends put it best, when talking about John’s writing: “It’s like you’re there with him!”. I couldn’t have put it better. RIP John. GETHIN JONES

I had known for quite some time that John Humphreys was seriously ill and yet it was still a shock when a mutual friend telephoned to tell me that John had passed away, only a fortnight earlier, John had asked me make his apology for being unable to attend the funeral of another fine trumpet man, saying in his e-mail that “I wont be very far behind Davy, I hope he’s there to play me in through the Pearly Gates when I get up there” Typical of his humour even in adversity! I am not a Shooting Times regular reader, but I have known John for some eighteen years as a jazz man. I first met him at The Longbow a small pub in Stapleford where he used to lead his band “Amadeus Boldwicket’s Red Hot Peppers” once a fortnight on the Thursday evening. I was a novice banjo player and I John invited to sit in for my first time ever to play in a band in public for a couple of numbers. After that first time, John used to invite me to sit in almost everytime I was there. A few years later I formed my own band and John helped me out by playing for my band on a few gigs as our trumpet lead. John once said when I was stuck for a trumpet leader for a particular gig “I’ll never see you without a trumpet lead” and he didn’t. I learnt an enormous amount from him about being a band leader. With the help of two band leader colleagues, John ran the all day Cambridge Jazz Festival with ten bands in twelve hours on a Sunday. He did this for eleven years and then guided me in running the Festival for a further four years. I will be at Bottisham Church on 21st February and then after at the Royal British Legion Club in Bottisham when jazz musicians form all over East Anglia will gather and play in memory of great band leader and good friend. Although I hadn’t seen John for well over a year, we were in loosely touch via the e-mails. I am the proud owner of two of his superb books Midnight on Hunters Fen and Poachers Tales and they are treasured possessions. On behalf of all the jazzers who haven’t seen the wonderful tributes, the super pictures of John’s Life Time Achievement Award and the lovely photograph that accompanied the announcement of John going to the Big Bandstand in the Sky, our sincere condolences to Angela and the family. The traditional jazz world has also lost an intrepid member and John will missed by a lot of musicians and jazz fans too. Rest in Peace John, farewell. FREDDIE WHIPP

The death of John Humphreys closes the page on one of the last of the great country sports writers of the past decades. Over the years, he successfully managed to convey his passion for his beloved sports in a way very many could easily understand. He will be fondly remembered for directing his readers, through the medium of his weekly column, to those wild and wonderful places we all frequent during winter. His loss will be felt throughout the entire shooting/fishing world. May he rest in peace. JOHN J. BOURKE

I sat reading today his last piece he had dictated to his wife and it was so sad to read but was equally amazed how he was coping with his illness and realising his life was coming to the end. To consider he thought all his readers as friends was very humbling and most readers considered him likewise.
Then I read the other pieces various people had written about him and it made you realise what he had achieved in his lifetime but most people were not totally aware off. It wasnt just his shooting articles I enjoyed but his comments on the countryside and his fishing bits too. Next weeks Shooting Times will not seem the same as I always read his page first and then started at the front cover again. It made me think as we all get older – next time you go and enjoy a countryside pursuit and meet someone you shared it with, take the time to tell them how much you enjoy what they share with you. Money does not buy everything in life but friends are totally priceless. Today’s Shooting Times was like loosing a old friend. JAN WILSON

It was with terrible inevitability and great sadness that I read of the death of John Humphreys in this weeks Shooting Times, made particularly poignant by the fact that I lost a friend who had been my shooting partner for close on 50 years with the same disease in the same place in August last year, which was ust before John announced his illness. So I knew what John faced in his final weeks. I never met him even though I tried unsuccessfully to catch his eye at the game fair one year, but I always enjoyed his articles and nearly always agreed with his strongly held views on all matters concerning shooting, fishing and the country side in general. He died as he lived, very bravely and with no compromise. Knowing what my friend went through in his final days, I was astounded that John was able to write his “Country Gun” right to the end. I will miss him. PETER HARRISON

I would simply like to add my condolences to the family and friends of this great lover of the countryside and wonderfully balanced writer on his subject; his articles were generally my first port of call in your magazine and I found them informative and entertaining while also being beautifully and correctly composed and written. We can ill afford to lose such an articulate advocate of our sport. His courage was magnificent in continuing to contribute his weekly article despite his rapidly deteriorating health and the fact that he reluctantly admitted that it was, towards the end, taking him very much longer to write his pieces. We must be thankful that he did take this considerable trouble and always remember a truly dedicated countryman and writer. IAN MACDONALD

I was very shocked to hear of the death of John Humphreys. My condolences go to Angela and her two boys. My own two boys ? Nicolas and Stéphane Vallotton were taught at Bottisham Village College by John and Angela and I know they have happy memories of their time there. JANET GOING-VALLOTTON

Good bye to my favourite scribe,I will miss you! May your family be comforted that you did not suffer for to long, God bless. K. CALLAGHAN

Farewell my dear friend. For your friendship, hospitality and kindness for over forty years. For the wonderful times we had shooting at Game Finders and many other shoots. Wild fowling on the marshes and duck flighting on my washes on the Bedford levels. Sharing a boat trout fishing at Graffham and Pitsford. My best times were spent on ‘The Moor’, grouse shooting at West Stonesdale and at the cottage. Happy memories which will live with me forever.Thank you John. DAVID CHEESLEY

It was with great sadness that I read in the Shooting Times of the death of John Humphreys. I have enjoy his stories on hunter fen and his different adventures with gun and rod since I was a school boy more than thirty years ago. Our sympathy go’s out to his Wife and family. It is an end of an era. NEIL FOX

It was with great sadness that I have learned of Johns passing. There have only been a few great writers and characters in the shooting world during my life time and John was one of them. I was lucky enough to buy his original 8 bore before Roaring Emma, so last night as dusk fell I took it out, and with a flash and a roar fired a salute to a dear man who will be sadly missed. IAN HADDON

If you would like to submit a tribute, please send it to [email protected]