Attention: You are using an outdated browser, device or you do not have the latest version of JavaScript downloaded and so this website may not work as expected. Please download the latest software or switch device to avoid further issues.

News > OP updates > Obituaries > John Woodley RIP

John Woodley RIP

23 Feb 2023

Frederick John Woodley OP 1949
4th October 1930 – 24th January 2023

With our thanks to John's son Anthony

John always saw his seven years at PGS as one of the pivotal times of his life. When his mother learnt that he had been awarded a scholarship to the Grammar School, she told him “that’s very nice dear, but people like us don’t go to Grammar School”. His parents simply could not afford to send him. John’s uncle was adamant that a way would be found and, fortunately, Mr Stork, the Headmaster made further funds available to cover the costs of uniform and other requisites, and John duly went to the Grammar School.

The youngest of three children, John was born into a working-class family in Portsmouth in 1930. His childhood was difficult, overshadowed by the hardship of the Great Depression and the outbreak of World War II. Portsmouth, as Britain’s biggest naval base, suffered frequent bombing raids and in later years John often recalled his experience of the Blitz and terrifying nights spent in the Anderson shelter. Despite this, he remembered his childhood with affection; as loving and secure. He excelled at PGS both academically and on the sports field and was nominated as Head Boy in his final year as well as captaining the cricket and football teams.

He left school and completed his National Service, serving two years as a Lieutenant with the Royal Artillery in Transjordan (present day Jordan), returning in 1951 to take up a place at Queens’ College, Cambridge. He studied Law and Economics, though admitted to spending more time on the sports field than in the lecture hall. He was awarded Blues at football and cricket, captained the University football team and played for Pegasus, the combined Oxford and Cambridge Football Team. He played at Wembley on two occasions.

In 1954 he went to Tanganyika (modern day Tanzania) to work for the Foreign and Commonwealth Service. He served for 11 years and finished as the District Commissioner for Masailand. He loved his years in East Africa and was especially proud of being awarded the title of Tribal Elder by the Masai. During this time, he met and married his wife, Patricia Sue (nee Atkinson) and they were happily married for 52 years before Patricia died in 2010. They are survived by four children – Caroline, Anthony, Penny and Julia.

Returning to England in 1965 they settled in Bromley, Kent. John trained as a social worker and worked initially as a Child Care Officer. He finished his career in 1985 as Director of Social Services for Cambridgeshire. John took early retirement which he made the most of, tending his garden and enjoying life in Cambridge. He and Patricia later moved to East Sussex to be nearer their children and grandchildren. After Patricia died, John spent time tending to his beloved garden, visiting National Trust properties, listening to music and welcoming his ever-growing family, comprising four children, their spouses, eight grandchildren and two great grandchildren. (A third great grandchild is due in April).

He is remembered with great love and affection and was somewhat of a local celebrity being known to many as 'the man with the hat'.

Similar stories

Most read

Have your say



High Street, Portsmouth, Hampshire, PO1 2LN

Quick Links

Follow us on Social

This website is powered by