Obituary: Caring magistrate who visited people he’d sent to prison

John and Joan when he received his MBE
John and Joan when he received his MBE

A Linslade man who earned an MBE back in 1986 for his work in the community, has died.

Former magistrate John Champion, of Derwent Road, was “a very caring man who always tried to help others”, his partner Joan DeRoy said this week.

John during the war

John during the war

John, who died on January 6, was born in London in 1925 and was one of the founder members of the Boys Brigade Band of 5th Hendon Brigade, He joined the Seaforth Highlanders, a Scottish regiment stationed in India, when he was 17.

Joan said: “When he returned from India in 1947 he went to work for London Transport as a booking clerk.

“His main interest was for the welfare of his fellow workers and because of this he spent a lot of time as a Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) representative and he became chairman of the Underground branch.

“That is how we met, I was the financial secretary for my branch and when he became the Executive Committee Member for London Underground in 1970, we were both always at meetings.”

While he worked for London Transport John did a lot of work in the community and became a magistrate in 1976 in the Gore Division in London and was transferred to Leighton Buzzard Magistrates’ Court when he moved to the town with Joan in 1978. He remained on the bench until he retired at the age of 70 and was on the Bedford Prison board of visitors.

Joan said: “As a magistrate John would see these people in court, sometimes send them to prison, and then he would go and visit them and try to help them. A lot of them respected him for that, he always tried to help people. I retired shortly after John so we could spend our retirement together until the illness took him, it was Alzheimer’s.

“We had no children but he had many nieces and nephews that he adored.

“He was a very caring man who did a lot for the community, not only in Leighton Buzzard, but in London as well.

“He was 90 when he passed away and he lived a great life, very busy and it all started when he was a boy with the Boys Brigade.”

John received an MBE in the Queen’s 1986 New Years Honours List for his work in the community. He was a TSSA Gold Medallion holder and an Honorary Life Member.

> John’s funeral took place this morning at Bethel Free Grace Baptist Church, in New Road, Linslade