MORE THAN 200 people turned out for the funeral of former Bromsgrove District Council chairman and community champion John Tidmarsh.
It was standing room only at St Michael’s Church, Stoke Prior, on Wednesday (April 15) where a charismatic service was held for a charismatic man.
Prior to the arrival of the coffin, representatives with two standards from the Royal British Legion – one from the Stoke Works and Hanbury branch and the other from Rous Lench and Inkberrow, were positioned by the doors. There was also the standard of the Redditch and Bromsgrove branch of the Royal Air Force Association (RAFA).
John was president of both the Stoke Works and Hanbury branch of the RBL and of the local RAFA.
When the coffin arrived, it was draped in a Union Flag in commemoration of Mr Tidmarsh’s achievements in the armed forces – he was a navigator in the RAF, on board Lancaster Bombers.
It had a lively entrance – to Glenn Miller’s Chattanooga Choo Choo, before there was a welcome and opening prayer.
The first hymn was the very traditional Jerusalem and, following that, there was a ten-minute film of John reflecting on his life – that was filmed at the time of his 90th birthday, back in January.
John spoke about his time in the RAF and all the travelling and jobs he had done over the years.
He talked fondly about the consultancy work he got to do as it meant he was able to travel and take his wife Joan with him wherever he went.
John said: ‘Life was full of surprises’, recalling a time when he was in Scotland and there had been a plane crash at the airfield where he was based.
It had been a lucky escape for him as he had been scheduled to be on one of the aircraft involved.
He concluded by speaking about how proud he was of his family.
There was a moving tribute made to John by his grandson Greg Collings.
In it, he talked about how his grandfather was ‘an inspiration’ who stood up for what he believed in when it was for the greater good.
He said: “He was a shoulder to lean on, a friend to rely on and a rock for the whole family.”
Greg also spoke fondly about how John had enjoyed more than 67 happy years of marriage to Joan and how he had fitted so much into his life, even in retirement when others would have sat back and relaxed.
He added being involved in community matters meant so much to his grandad, who he described as ‘a legend’ and ‘a hero’.
He listed all of the community roles John had held, including his RAFA and RBL titles, his 50 years service to the Freemasons, being president of the Worcestershire Air Crew Association, chairman of the governors at Stoke Prior First School and chairman of the Neighbourhood Watch D Division.
He concluded by leading those gathered in a round of applause in tribute.
John’s daughter Joanna thanked her father for all the good times and spoke about how he called Stoke Prior ‘The jewel in the crown of Bromsgrove’.
Rod Laight, representing Bromsgrove District Council, said when he spoke to councillors and officers, they ran out of superlatives to describe John who was a great man.
Among the other hymns sang during the service was, fittingly, one set to the tune of The Dam Busters’ March.
And, after a commendation and farewell, the coffin was led out to a private committal for members of the family.
Afterwards, there were refreshments at Stoke Prior Village Hall.
The coffin was carried into the church. 1615022MMR7
Conservative candidate Sajid Javid arrives for the service. 1615022MMR6
Janice Boswell who served alongside John on Bromsgrove District Council. 1615022MMR2
Caroline and John Spencer. 1615022MMR1
Veterans catch up before the service. 1615022MMR3
Tidmarsh Funeral 4
Photo by Marcus Mingins 1615022MMR4
Bromsgrove Civic Head John Ruck with fellow Conservatives. 1615022MMR5