Love note author and former Hemel Hempstead Town Football Club chairman John Skelton dies, aged 92

John Skelton
John Skelton

Tributes have been paid to a former sailor, greengrocer, author and chairman of Hemel Hempstead Town Football Club who has died, aged 92.

John Skelton, a sailor during the Second World War, was one of the lucky few watching from the Wembley stands as England won the World Cup in 1966.

The great-great-grandfather previously ran a green grocers in Hemel and was chairman of the town’s football club in the 1960s.

When love of his life Peggy died in 2010 after 66 years of marriage, John wrote a book about their memories and how they fell in love on the dancefloor.

“He was really outgoing, liked to be the centre of attention and was a great master of ceremonies,” said his son, Martin, 70. “He liked speaking and used to sing to mummy before she went to sleep.”

John was a fan of singer and Family Fortunes host, Max Bygraves. Three Bygraves songs will be played at John’s funeral.

Martin added that the book, Peggy and John – A Wonderful Life, helped his father out of a dark place.

“He really went downhill,” Martin said. “But it gave him something to do and he loved to bang on about it.

“There was some great family history in there and quite a few people said to me that it reminded them of yesteryear – the war, growing up.”

John’s naval service saw him posted to a secret radar station in Iceland and he was also part of the Malta Convoys.

During this time, Peggy wrote to him every day, but the couple later decided to burn the letters to avoid embarrassment – something he later described as one of the biggest regrets of his life.

John gave up the opportunity to become a naval officer so that he could marry Peggy. After settling in Hemel, the couple ran a greengrocers. At first selling door-to-door from the back of a van before taking over a shop in Hobbs Hill Road in 1955.

The couple who had four children – Martin, Roly, Lesley and Jackie – retired to Elizabeth House in Highfield.

The funeral takes place at West Herts Crematorium this Friday at 3.40pm. Donations to Save the Children are welcome.