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John Holland Obituary

It is with great sadness and still some disbelief that we bear the news of the recent passing of our great friend and long-time member John Holland. His lymphoma returned on top of complications, and having chosen to forego further treatment, died at the Rowans Hospice on 24th January.

John joined the Portsmouth Society management group and trustees of the charity around the time that he took a redundancy package from IBM and was a key member for the rest of his life.   He helped other trustees get to grips with IT matters and solve their problems. Although John avoided invitations to Chair the Society, he quietly used his business and project management skills to help shape the Society’s direction to be a respected civic amenity organisation commenting about Portsmouth’s built and green environment. Uncomfortable with confrontation John discouraged the Society from making political judgements and statements.

For many years he strove to provide members with as good a quality newsletter as possible within the Society’s limited resources.  Coupling enthusiasm for cycling John delivered many copies around the City.   With advancing technology and growth of personal computing John set up the Society’s website and how this has been developed plus the need to engage with social media.

An important part of the Society’s work is considered to be looking at and commenting on planning applications so a separate sub group was set up to meet regularly (every 3 weeks) which John agreed to lead and hosted at home.  Before the Planning system became more process driven John regularly made deputations at Planning Committees which was a significant time commitment.   When John knew his condition was terminal it was humbling to find him anxious for assurance the Society’s planning application review work would continue.

One of the most prestigious events in the Portsmouth Society’s programme is the Annual Design Awards looking to encourage and celebrate sensible economic reuse of existing buildings, especially the heritage estate, and good design of the new stressing the need for sustainability and landscapes in the City.   John provided considerable support to the late Roger James when he ran the awards scheme and in more recent times assisted David Baynes in shortlisting candidates for judging.

The Portsmouth Society will greatly miss John’s thoughtful, constructive and physical help keeping the Society running on an even track.  We were delighted to learn that John had been awarded a Portsmouth Civic Award for 2019.

Sue McClory 
Chair and on behalf of Portsmouth Society Trustees