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Penkridge parish council was a big draw for former chairman John McPheat

By Staffordshire Newsletter  |  Posted: April 06, 2014

Penkridge parish council was a big draw for former chairman John McPheat

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NAME: John McPheat

AGE: 74

HOME: Millhouse Gardens, Penkridge


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FAMILY: Married to Diana for 33 years. Two sons, one stepson and 1 step daughter. Eight grandchildren aged from seven to 23.

WHERE WERE YOU BORN? I was born in 1939 in Coventry to a Scottish father and English mother but spent quite a lot of my early years in Scotland. I have always considered myself Scottish. As my dad told me; “if a pig is born in a stable it doesn’t make it a horse.”

CHILDHOOD MEMORIES: I have few memories of my early childhood although air raid sirens give me the shivers even now. I remember one day when lots of planes were flying past, coming and coming. It was D-day I was told later.

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB? My first paid jobs were all vacation jobs; delivering bread and delivering the Xmas post etc.

WHAT DID YOU WANT TO DO WHEN YOU LEFT SCHOOL? I thought I would be a teacher when I left school. Totally wrong. After university where I read history I got a job as a trainee Industrial engineer, got a qualification and never regretted the switch. Being involved in making things was the best job ever. Among many things I was involved in taking optical fibres from the laboratory and setting up proper manufacturing and was responsible for some of the first optical fibre telecommunication cables, including some that went into TAT8 the first transatlantic undersea optical cable.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO GET INVOLVED WITH PENKRIDGE PARISH COUNCIL? I have been a member of the Labour Party all my adult life and have also done, and still do, a lot of voluntary work. I thought maybe I could bring those elements to the Parish Council and make a contribution, though I soon learned there is not much room for politics at parish level. Being a councillor keeps you busy and you do have to use your brain as well as work with others whose views may not always chime with yours. I have always sought co-operation rather that conflict which I think is why I was elected chairman of council three times.

WHAT WAS YOUR PROUDEST MOMENT ON THE COUNCIL? I don’t know that I have a particular proudest moment but contributing to the establishment of our Civic Burial Group was very satisfying. Although buying the Haling Dene centre was well before my time I think that with that one exception projects have got more ambitious. There has also been a switch to trying to get more interaction with the community including setting up and looking to make more open the parish web site.

DO YOU HAVE ANY REGRETS? I have a few but far too few to mention.

WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS NOW? At 74 my plans for the future include staying as fit and active as possible, enjoying plenty of holidays with my wife and time with the rest of my family. Also carrying on as long as possible with my voluntary work. I am a charity trustee, a volunteer with a canal boat charity (Diana and I had our own boat for 20 years until she wanted holidays somewhere warm), a business mentor for the Prince’s Trust and a member of the Independent Monitoring Board at Featherstone prison. That should keep me busy for a while.


CAR: the Nissan Note we have at present.

HOBBIES: as above plus walking and growing vegetables. We also go to the cinema quite a lot.

MUSIC: Catholic tastes but favourites include 18th century classical music (leave out Bach’s organ pieces) and jazz especially Miles Davis.

HOLIDAY DESTINATION: Turkey. Great scenery, nice people, good food and lots of sunshine.

FOOD: I love Italian and Mexican.

NEWSPAPER: The News Chronicle. It closed years ago. I make do.

BOOK: there are so many as I am a voracious reader. I have recently enjoyed ”The Long Walk” about a Polish chap who escaped a Siberian labour camp and with others walked to India. Amazing! The Nelson Mandela one with a similar name was also amazing. Before Apartheid fell I boycotted South African goods and supported him and others via Amnesty International.

PIN-UP: My wife Diana who manages to look delectable while still looking after me and our home.

LOVE/HATE: Diana, my family, music and above all reading/Bad or sloppy grammar. I’m with Lynne Truss. Also loud people, especially on trains.

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