Families pay touching tributes to former soldiers who helped run Royal British Legion’s Stevenage branch
- Credit: Archant
The families of two former soldiers who played prominent roles in the running of the Royal British Legion’s Stevenage branch have paid tribute to them.
A service was held in memory of John Jeffery last week after he lost his 11-month battle with pancreatic cancer at the age of 73, while many are expected to gather for a service to celebrate the life of Stan Stokes, who has died aged 95.
Both men were keen members of the scout movement and good friends, with John succeeding D-Day veteran Stan as the Legion’s Stevenage chairman in 2007 – a post he held until he had to stand down due to ill health.
John came to Stevenage through his work for the British Army, being posted in town for a project officer role within British Aerospace having previously spent time in Germany, Northern Ireland and Australia.
After retiring from the forces, he spent 13 years in the civil service before giving up work in 2003 and joining the Legion.
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“John’s legacy to the branch and to the town was his dedication in getting Stevenage War Memorial refurbished,” said Pat, his wife of 27 years.
“He worked tirelessly with Stevenage Borough Council to achieve this and was so proud when it was completed. Sadly he didn’t live to see the second part of the project finished.
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“John was a man of great integrity and loyalty, a proud and dignified man, a man of humility, a true gentleman.
“He was greatly respected during his scouting years, his working life, within the Legion and among his friends.
“He was a great family man and loved his two girls Karen and Joanne, step children Simon and Claire, his 12 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.”
Stan – who joined the army in 1938 and served throughout the Second World War – was among the troops on Sword Beach for the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944. He moved to Stevenage in 1959 after being relocated by Kodak.
He remained in the town for the rest of his life and, alongside his football and scouting hobbies, was best known as a Stevenage Poppy Appeal collector at Sainsbury’s Poplars store. Stan was chairman of the Legion branch for more than a decade and took on the presidential role prior to his death.
Son Dave, who is a Legion member himself, said: “We are very proud of dad, who up until last year was very active. Going down the town with my dad could be a real pain as we’d never get anywhere – everybody knew him so you kept stopping for a chat.
“He was always out doing something – he was still playing football until he was 50 or so.
“We have a suspicion there will be quite a few people at the service, and that’s just an indication of the number of people’s lives he’s touched.”
The service for Stan – who is survived by two daughters, two sons, seven grandchildren and seven great grandchildren – will take place at St Andrew and St George’s Church in St George’s Way at 11am on Wednesday, April 13.