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.
“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