John Powell, the long-serving chairman of Burbage parish council, has died at the age of 84 after a lengthy illness. He will long be remembered as ‘Mr Burbage’…the man who put service to his village second only to his wife and family.
Mr Powell, 84, died peacefully on Thursday at his home in The Sprays, Burbage, where he had been nursed with the help of Prospect Hospice nurses for his last few days.
His dedication to his village with 46 years’ service on the parish council and running the village post office shop with his wife Mary for almost 35 years, was rewarded with a British Empire Medal in 1990 for ‘services to the community’. His achievements included helping secure a bypass for the village in 1991.
The father of two was born at Savernake Hospital and lived briefly at West Grafton before his parents moved into Burbage where he spent the remainder of his life.
After leaving Burbage School at 14 he worked as a porter at the former West Grafton station, but when he was called up for National Service it was discovered he had a detached retina so he was not enlisted – ironically, he also lost his job with Great Western Railway because of his eyesight problem.
His local government service started when he joined the former Pewsey Rural District Council in its surveyors’ department where he was responsible for organising repairs to council houses.
Mr and Mrs Powell were married in 1957 and made their home in Burbage where they bought a plot of land off the High Street. They built their home and the post office shop when he was asked to become the village postmaster.
Mrs Powell recalled: “We lived in a caravan until the building was finished and we opened the new post office on the first of August 1959.” He later became chairman of the Swindon Federation of Sub Postmasters.
Their son Peter was born in 1964 – the same year his father first became a parish councillor. Their daughter Jane followed in 1967.
The couple were blessed with one granddaughter, Perdita: “Perdy was the light of her grandad’s life,” said Mrs Powell.
Mr Powell served two four-year terms on the former Kennet District Council, but his main love, said his wife, was the village he lived in: “He loved everything in Burbage and loved doing things for the village.”
His hobbies included gardening and holidays aboard the couple’s narrowboat called after his childhood nickname, Chick’s Own.
Mr Powell is survived by two of his three sisters, his daughter Jane and son-in-law Bob Dass, his son Peter and granddaughter Perdita.
Mr and Mrs Powell would have celebrated their diamond wedding on January 12.
The funeral takes place at All Saints’ parish church on Friday, January 4 at 2pm with a collection for the Burbage Surgery – c/o funeral director Dianne MacKinder, The Wagon Yard, London Road, Marlborough SB8 1LH.