John Richard Hope, known as Jack, passed away at Summerhill Care Home in Alnwick on Monday 4th April. He was 98 years old.
Born at ‘The Snook’ on Holy Island on May 21, 1923, he and his siblings attended school on the island and traveled to and from lessons by donkey because it was too far to walk and proper roads had not yet been built. .
When World War II broke out, Jack was too young to enlist, but as soon as he turned 17 he joined the Royal Naval Patrol Service.
He was first posted to HMS Ganges in Ipswich before undergoing minesweeping training in the Firth of Forth. From the age of 19 he served on various minesweepers and his last posting was on HM BYMS 2049, where he was helmsman at the age of 21.
Jack was honored numerous times during his time at sea and won the following medals: the 1939-1945 Star, the Atlantic Star, the African Star, the Italian Star, the King’s Badge and the King George VI Medal.
He also received a silver badge which was established by Winston Churchill after the Prime Minister heard that there was no award for servicemen in the Royal Naval Patrol service.
After the war, Jack met his future wife, Monica Foreman, who was the daughter of a Lowick farmer and butcher. They married in 1947 and had three children: John, Michael, and Phyllida.
Over the next several years, Jack held a variety of jobs. They included working as a part-time gamekeeper, raising livestock and poultry, including a pigsty, and also running a school bus service.
It was Jack’s love of the countryside and all that is in it that led him to his next job as Keeper of Northumberland National Park, where he later became Chief Keeper after more staff were hired. He was in charge of 398 square miles.
Due to his hard work and dedication to Northumberland National Park, he was awarded a British Empire Medal in 1977.
His outstanding interest in and knowledge of botany and ornithology led him to become the Botanic Society of Great Britain and Ireland Registrar for Northumberland and the Scottish Borders. He also went on to lecture at Newcastle University, the Hancock Museum and many other groups and societies.
During his time in Northumberland National Park, he was leader of the mountain rescue team and on one occasion he and three colleagues had to climb Cheviot during a snow blizzard to locate a crashed light aircraft.
They had to carry the body to Langleeford through terrifying drifts and blizzards.
Jack also enjoyed many activities in the field, such as shooting and collecting with his Labradors. He was a professional hunting dog trainer, bred many field trial champions and even trained hunting dogs for the Queen and Queen Mother. He also liked a few glasses of Famous Grouse after a day of filming.
After early retirement from Northumberland National Park, Jack didn’t want to rest, so he got involved in police cadet training. He was also an advisor to the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award, continued to train him as a hunting dog and worked at Chillingham Castle on a project for Sir Humphrey Wakefield, where he supervised young delinquents.
He also found time to be a special agent for a number of years and was part of the Northumberland team that won the Specials contest three years in a row.
He spent his childhood on Holy Island and further up the coast in Goswick, but lived for many years in Breamish Valley before moving to Wooler 12 years ago to be closer to family.
He was a familiar figure on the High Street and on the city’s footpaths as he liked to walk twice a day and moved to Summerhill 10 months ago.
Details of his funeral have yet to be finalized.