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John Kirkham – 7th July 1948 to 7th February 2015

By February 19, 2015Bathrooms
John Kirkham | A Bell

Our friend and colleague John Kirkham passed away peacefully on Saturday 7th February at Cynthia Spencer Hospice in Northampton.

John had been receiving treatment for lung cancer for the last few months.

John made an immense contribution to Bells for more than fifty years as a senior manager, Director, Managing Director for 25 years, and more recently Chairman. He led the management team when they carried out a buy out of the company in 2005, and was instrumental in navigating Bells through two difficult recessions. John was very highly regarded by colleagues, customers and suppliers and will be greatly missed. Response to John’s passing within the Kitchen, Bathroom, Tile, and Fire & Stove industry has been overwhelming and very moving. John’s ethic of “dealing with customers and suppliers in a fair and honest way” earned him universal respect across the industry.

A Bell & Co Ltd

“John Kirkham joined A Bell & Co at the old Gold Street shop on 1st September 1963 aged just 15 and, amazingly for this day and age, was to spend his whole life with the company. His calm efficiency progressed him up the firm. He was appointed a Dept. Director in 1980 and joined the Main Board in 1984, before being appointed Managing Director in 1988. Always kind and considerate, he was a pleasure to work with and I could not have asked for a better MD to run the business and help it grow into the fine firm it is today. We are all going to miss him and his wise counsel terribly.” – Edgar Mobbs, Chairman (1990 to 2002) A Bell & Co Ltd.

As well as his work at Bells some of John’s other notable achievements included,

Kitchen Bathroom & Bedroom Specialists Association

John was regional Chair from 29 September 1992 to 5th June 1997 – “John was committed to the standards set by the Association, and in his own quiet, but knowledgeable manner, made his opinions known when relevant, he will be fondly remembered” – Graham Ball, Chief Executive Officer KBSA.

National Association of Youth Clubs.

“John served on our Board (in a voluntary capacity) for 10 years as Chairman of Action Centres UK and 1 year as Chairman of NAYC. He was very committed to our work with young people and always so thoughtful towards our staff and volunteers. His involvement went back to his own teenage years taking part in activities at Hereward Wake House in Gladstone Road with our Founder Rev Harry Whittaker in the 1960’s” – John Whittaker, Chief Executive NAYC.

Carey Baptist Church, Moulton

“John was a member for about 30 years where he was a deacon and headed up the property committee. He was especially involved with the manse and the redevelopment of the chapel. John was very hands on and amongst other things used to mow the grass and organise the rota for the sound system at church” – Rev Stuart Dennis, Carey Baptist, Moulton.

Magistrates Court

“Mr Kirkham was a very valued member of the Northampton, Daventry and Towcester bench. He was appointed to the bench in 1987 and became a court chairman in 2007, devoting 28 years to this important public duty. He will be missed by his colleagues and members of staff” – Nick Watson, Justices’ Clerk and Secretary to the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Committees for Leicestershire & Rutland, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire.

John was a totally committed family man, having been married to Mary for almost 45 years. He was an extremely proud father to Simon and Ruth, and a devoted grandfather to Asha and Leo.

He was a keen supporter of local sport, and in particular ‘The Cobblers’, and had been a season ticket holder at Sixfields for many seasons. In John’s own words, two of the things he enjoyed most were “walking and talking”, and he recently enjoyed walking ‘The Dales Way’ with his son Simon.

John Kirkham epitomised the phrase ‘Mister Nice Guy’, and will be sadly missed by everyone that he came into contact with, but in particular his wife And family.

‘His legacy lives on’

As a mark of respect and to allow staff to attend the funeral, the Bell showroom and warehouse will be closed all day on Tuesday 24th February with the funeral taking place at 1.30pm at Carey Baptist Church. All are welcome to attend.

Carey Baptist Church Details

Join the discussion 11 Comments

  • I first met John 2 years ago when he was part of the Bell team instrumental in my appointment as MD at Bell.
    Working with John was a privilege, his wisdom, tolerance and patience were always to the fore and his guidance and help in my new role invaluable.
    In life it is rare to meet someone who is genuinely humble and nice, John was both and I will miss his guidance hugely.

  • Michael Bustin says:

    I started working with John when I joined Bells in January 1973, and we worked together for over 40 years until he became seriously ill late last year. He was the most considerate and caring person you could ever work with and had the special ability of being able to communicate with everyone.
    I feel privileged to have known him for so long, and he will be really missed by us all.

  • Sean Frohlich says:

    I had the pleasure of working with John for many years as a supplier to A Bells.
    A true Gentleman, who I will miss very much.

    R.I.P. John

  • gill Cooper says:

    He was my big brother . What more can I say .

  • Keith Pearson says:

    i work for over the last 30 years with you and you made me the man I am today ,you was my boss but also a friend and I will miss you.

  • shelley richardson says:

    John employed me as a young bathroom salesperson, my first thoughts were that this man was kind, sincere, well mannored and that he was very proud of ‘A.Bell & Co’ I went on to work with him for approx 9 years. He was a good man and the world is a worse place without him in it

  • Steve Bustin says:

    As many people have stated, John was a true gentleman and will be greatly missed. My best memory of John was driving to London with him, Simon and my dad to the Cobblers first trip to Wembley in 1997. I thought my eyes and ears were deceiving me when John got completely caught up in the emotion and started honking his car horn under every bridge that had a Cobblers banner on it and cheering as he drove – a passionate supporter indeed!
    My thoughts are with Mary, Ruth, Simon and family at this time.
    Rest in Peace John.

  • Kathryn hall says:

    I’m so sorry to hear this sad sad news. What a lovely man John was, with a lovely family. My mum thought so much of you and your family and i remember you all fondly from the Carey days. Much love to Mary, Simon and Ruth. So sorry. Sending lots of love xxx

  • Richard Capell says:

    I knew John for almost 40 years and he was undoubtedly the kindest and most considerate person I have met-he was always very good to me. A bit of Bells has disappeared.
    My thoughts are with his family at this sad time.

  • Michael Barton says:

    It was a privilege to work both for and with John. He will long be remembered as a caring, fair, kind and honest man, a true gentleman that will be sadly missed by all. Our thoughts are with Mary and her family, from Carol & Michael.

  • John and Lyn Kemsley says:

    John Kirkam was the first face of Bells that we knew when he transformed our ensuite and since then we have had our kitchen and then our lobby done. Utility room to go! We returned to Bells again and again because of John.
    The love and respect for John was obvious from all the Bells technicians who did jobs for us.
    We only knew him a short time but could relate to his passion for his grandchildren and for wild birds.
    A lovely man.

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