John Richard Venables was a city businessman and freeman of Oxford, and a passionate advocate of local and family businesses.

His father Dennis Venables bought Shepherd and Woodward in 1945.

John entered the business, after an apprenticeship at Elliston and Cavell in 1958, and he was joined by his brother Peter, in 1963 who became the financial director and is the current joint chairman.

John was the chairman of the Shepherd and Woodward group who loved being on the shop floor, a people’s person and wonderful mentor.

Oxford Mail: John Venables Photo: Venables family

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It is a testament that the current retail managers all joined as school leavers.

Together with Peter, the business thrived with the Summertown branch and the purchase of Walters of The Turl and Castells in the 1980s.

John was the eldest son of Dennis and Betty Venables, born in 1937 and the family lived on Cumnor Hill.

He went to Bloxham School.

As a young man he enjoyed sport, particularly rowing at the City of Oxford. John was a talented mechanical engineer, totally self-taught and he could build or fix anything.

As a teenager, one of his first projects was to rebuild a motorbike, which began his love of motorbikes and cars. He has a 1930s Norton and enjoyed trials riding.

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In 1962, John and Tricia married at Cumnor Church.

He was in Oxford Round Table 144, and was in the group of volunteers who founded the annual Oxford RT Fireworks Display in South Park, which to date has raised thousands for local charities.

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As past chairman, he was also instrumental in forming Quadrumalage, which fostered fellowship and friendship with European tablers from university cities, Montpellier, Heidelberg, and Padua, again another tradition which continues to this day.

John was also a keen member and past president of The Frewen Club and enjoyed his social Wednesday lunches.

He developed a love of MG cars, and had a collection of five classic MGs, and he lovingly restored everyone in his Cumnor Hill home.

John really enjoyed his cars, he always said they were to be driven and enjoyed by everyone.

He would always volunteer his services as a wedding chauffeur and give joy rides at the village fete; and would always dress up for the part.

John was involved with the MG Car Club and MG Owners Club, constantly volunteering for many roles, including organising rallies and being a volunteer reporter for ‘Safety Fast’.

John had a kind heart, he had time for everyone and would do anything for anyone.

He was a man of principle and an incredibly loyal friend but above all a wonderful family man.

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John died peacefully at his home at Cumnor Hill on October 30, leaving his wife, Tricia, daughters Julie, Tracey and Lisa, grandchildren Arthur, Alice and Sasha; and son-in-laws Paul and Adrian. He was 84.

His funeral was held at Cumnor Church yesterday.

Before the funeral, the cortege went along High Street in Oxford, with a two-minute silence outside Shepherd and Woodward.