I heard this morning that John Stokes died last night.
John was an important figure in the class from the very early days. He was chairman in 1961/62 and served on the committee for many years exercising his sensible judgement. I remember that the meetings were held in his offices in Doughty St, London WC1 when I was on the committee in the early 70’s. He was always a staunch supporter of Ranelagh Sailing Club. He was there, as usual, only a few weeks ago for the MR ‘Tideway Race’ – he looked well and on good form. I am sure many of you will join in to tell us about his achievements and escapades, but most importantly he was really nice kind man.
Our thoughts go out to Margret and all their family
Posted: 02/07/2015 12:22:58
Pat, this is very sad news indeed and a big loss to all of those who knew him.
He retained a keen interest in the goings on in the Melin fleet and I for one will certainly miss popping into the race box at Ranelagh to be quizzed about which events I would be attending / had attended recently, and regaled with stories and anecdotes of his memories of those events in the past.
Posted: 02/07/2015 14:02:36
I was extremely sad to hear this news. John would have been following the Salcombe Week results more avidly than anyone. He always loved a good chat and with Margaret has been manning the Ranelagh race box for as long as I can remember. When John wanted something doing, he wouldn't let it lie - everytime I saw him last year he asked me whether we'd nominated Alan Warren for honorary membership of the MROA yet. Then he produced letters he'd written to former chairmen of the class. John was an extremely keen supporter of my Round Britain trip and produced maps and tidal information for the Thames for me, when I thought that was the route I was taking. I have no doubt he would have been in the RSC box for the off if I'd ended up leaving from there. There was also nothing John wanted more than to see Ranelagh members doing well, and was the most generous lender of boats.
I have been lucky enough to hear John reminisce on his merlin years on many occasions, and am extremely sad that this unique element of Ranelagh Sailing Club will no longer be around to support us all anymore.
Love to Margaret, Emma and all of the rest of the Stokes family.
We will certainly be raising a glass or two to John next week.
Posted: 02/07/2015 14:59:18
By: Frances Gifford
It's a sad time for John's family, his many friends, Ranelagh S.C and the Merlin Rocket class.
I've known John since the 1950s when my Dad and I raced 'Dizzy' no. 490 at Burnham against John and his cousin Colin sailing 'Jezebelle' no. 174? I only crewed for John once in 'Salamander' no. 239 at the Henley Sailing Club's open meeting for all 14ft dinghies.
In the early 1960s John and Margaret lived next door to Helen and me, there was just about enough room for two Merlin Rockets on trailers in the garage area behind our flats!
I doubt whether throughout it's history the Merlin Rocket class has had a more enthusiastic member than John Stokes. After they were married he was ably supported by Margaret and they thoroughly deserved the honorary life membership of the Merlin Rocket Owner's Association awarded to them at the 2006 association birthday party.
Posted: 03/07/2015 07:23:53
Although I did not join the class until 1980 and our paths crossed only every now and then, I was always honoured by the way John would greet me as if I had been a Merlin man from the year dot, like many of my contemporaries in the Class. A real gentleman and great enthusiast in a way rarely seen these days, anxious to discuss the Merlin scene at every opportunity.
I recall he gave me a personal pre-official-opening tour of the Ranelagh extension when I happened to pop in one evening -he just had to share his pride and excitement about the improvements. My thoughts are with the family,
Posted: 03/07/2015 10:58:23
By: Dan Alsop
John served as Commodore or Ranelagh on several occasions - I couldn't tell you how many without consulting the honours board in the clubhouse - but when I joined he had already been in the top job at least once already and was currently enjoying the role of Bosun. That was the measure of the man; he would take pleasure in doing whatever was needed. His generous and kindly nature meant that he felt it important to ensure that the new member ceased to be the new boy as soon as possible and became integrated into the life of the club. Thus it was that on my second visit, only a week after joining, I was created Bosun's Mate. Perhaps the fact that we were both ex-Royal Engineers had something to do with it (he being rather more ex than I!), but it was also because John had so much enthusiasm and such a generous spirit that he was impossible to say no to.
I can't really comment on his contribution to the Merlin Class because that mostly took place before we met, and others who were around at the time will do that. What I can say is that I have been a member of a number of sailing clubs in my travels and most seem to have that one particular individual who gives so much more than others, but at Ranelagh John took the concept to a whole new level. He was the most dedicated member the club could have had and doing anything under his direction was a pleasure. A most remarkable man, he certainly made a mark in my life and I'm sure the same is true of all who had the good fortune to know him.
My condolences go to Margaret and his family whose loss is so much greater than ours.
Posted: 03/07/2015 11:46:16
By: Derik Palmer
We were very sad to hear the news about John yesterday. He was instrumental to my joining Ranelagh 15 years ago after I spent a few hours with him in the race box while others sailed and he convinced me that a club Solo would be a good first step, and soon after that a Merlin would be a good investment. Two decisions I have never regretted! Wendy also spent many hours with John in the race box, learning the trade and enjoying his company.
He will be sorely missed by all at the Club and, as Derik says, more so by Margaret and his family.
Posted: 03/07/2015 14:04:49
By: Nick & Wendy Price
John’s funeral has now been confirmed for Tuesday 21st July.
There will be a ceremony at Mortlake Crematorium for the family and close friends at 12:00. Then at 13:00 everybody is invited to remember John at Ranelagh Sailing Club.
Wine and sandwiches will be provided and we plan to open the bar as well. Parking on the slipway should not be a problem because low water is scheduled for early afternoon.
Margaret is worried the event becomes too serious and suggested we should all come in sailing gear. That is the way John would have known us best.
Instead of flowers please donate to the RNLI.
Posted: 07/07/2015 12:23:09
By: Thomas Stolper
Like so many Merlin Rocketeers I had known John since I was a schoolboy and was crewing in Merlins at Ranelagh & Hampton. A staunch supporter of the class and never too busy for a chat to talk about the early days. In more recent years he always loved to come over and look at my "Squirrel" (235) when at Tamesis vintage events.
I like many others, will really miss John
Posted: 08/07/2015 16:00:53
By: Mike Liggett
Thank you for all your kind words. Just to add that all are welcome at Mortlake Crematorium at 12noon tomorrow or at Ranelagh from 1pm. Thanks Emma
Posted: 20/07/2015 17:51:08
By: Emma Stokes
A bittersweet day yesterday, first as John's funeral took place, and then as the great, the good and many of the plain ordinary of the Merlin class gathered at Ranelagh not only to remember John but also to celebrate his life and the impact he had on all those who knew him. So many faces, stories and anecdotes - if John could have been there he would have loved it.
The starting gun sounded. John put his helm down, came up hard on the wind and sailed away on his last race. We who are left will miss him, but the breeze lives on.
Posted: 22/07/2015 14:37:29
By: Derik Palmer