Tributes paid to stalwart of garden city known as ‘Mr Letchworth’

John Stoddard at home with his letter for his MBE for services to Letchworth

John Stoddard at home with his letter for his MBE for services to Letchworth - Credit: Archant

Tributes have been paid to a man whose contribution to the community was so colossal that he was known as ‘Mr Letchworth’.

John Stoddard – who passed away at the age of 93 on Sunday, August 2, following a short illness – moved to Letchworth in 1938, and his list of achievements since then are as long as they are remarkable.

Despite harbouring initial hopes of being a journalist – after working on the Letchworth Citizen – John would fight on Gold Beach during the D-Day landings in 1944, and after marrying his wife, Sheila, in 1950 he set up dental product business Stoddard Manufacturing Ltd back in his beloved garden city.

John also served on the local bench as a magistrate for 25 years and spent a quarter of a century as chairman of the Lister Hospital Appeal during which time he helped to raise more than £2million for vital equipment.

He helped found the Letchworth Garden City Corporation in 1978 and was a stalwart of the Free Church, Letchworth, congregation, as well as becoming a founder governor of the Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation in 1995.

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John’s son Michael said: “He was incredibly active in Letchworth and he loved the town.

“But he was self-effacing and quite reserved. I think he was most proud of receiving his MBE at Buckingham Palace in 2012 from the Queen.”

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A Royal Air Forces Association t spokesman for the Hitchin, Letchworth and district branch said: “John was our Branch Padre.

“It was his family who advised him to slow down and give up some of the activities he was involved in.

“So, earlier this year he reluctantly handed in his notice, but not before telling Roy Newbury how the D-Day and Battle of Britain services should be carried out. That was John, always prepared.

“John will be sadly missed. Everyone in Letchworth knew of him even if they didn’t know him personally.”

A Letchworth Rotary Club spokesman said: “It is with deep sadness that we learn of the sudden death of our colleague, friend and longest-serving club member, John Stoddard.

“His wisdom and humour will be sorely missed.

“John joined the Rotary Club of Letchworth in 1958. During his 57 years with the club, he served as President in 1968 was presented with Rotary’s ‘Paul Harris Fellowship’ for outstanding service and later became the club’s senior honorary member.”

The funeral will be held at the Free Church in Norton Way South at 11am on Thursday, August 20.

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