John Headford, a very private man who touched the lives of hundreds of people, has died aged 94.

Born in Bristol in 1926, John’s youth included a grammar school education and national service in the Royal Engineers, a Regiment of which he was very proud. In Bristol he was a member of the Cathedral Players and the Shakespeare Society and he produced the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance in the Colston Hall.

John’s university life, studying maths and music, was cruelly cut short by a year in a sanatorium with tuberculosis.

A career in insurance brought him to Bournemouth as Manager of the London and Edinburgh in 1959. He and his new wife, Maureen, joined the Bournemouth Little Theatre Club and took an active part in productions at the Club’s own Palace Court Theatre in the centre of Bournemouth. They were also involved in staging Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” on Brownsea Island, the pre-cursor of the group now established as the Brownsea Open Air Theatre.

Equally skilled backstage as he was on it, John stage managed for local groups including Poole and Parkstone, Bournemouth and Boscombe Light Opera Company and the Bournemouth Operatic Society. He and Maureen produced the Bournemouth Hospital Pantomimes for many years. Later, John worked with the late Joanne Marston Blackwell on staging the finalists’ concerts of the All-England Dance Festival at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London.

John was generous in sharing his abilities. An accomplished pianist, he regularly played for ballet classes at Maureen’s Stage Door School of Dancing. He was happy to pass on his expertise and technical knowledge of theatre, and his children, Julie and Stephen, remember hours sitting in the prompt corner taking everything in. Simon Bagnall, Technical Stage Manager for BH Live, says he would not be where he is now without everything he learned from John.

After ten years in insurance, John retrained at King Alfred’s College, Winchester to teach maths, and he taught at Winton Boys’ School until his retirement. Amazingly, into his nineties, John would drive to Winton and climb the stairs to support his beloved BLTC in their new home in Jameson Road.

A funeral, meticulously planned by John himself, took place at the Bournemouth Crematorium on February 3rd. It was attended by family and friends in the limited number permitted by covid restrictions, and followed on line by others from as far away as Florida.

John will be fondly remembered by his loving family and the hundreds of friends who owed him so much.