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Tributes to David Johnson - historian, former teacher and litter picker

PUBLISHED: 12:34 29 October 2020 | UPDATED: 12:34 29 October 2020

David Johnson when he found a certificate awarded for the village of Acton's fundraising efforts during WWII.

David Johnson when he found a certificate awarded for the village of Acton's fundraising efforts during WWII.

Archant

A popular village historian and retired teacher has died, aged 87, after a long battle with Parkinson’s.

David Johnson with his book about his father farming in Suffolk. The book raised money for research into Parkinson's. Picture: ARCHANTDavid Johnson with his book about his father farming in Suffolk. The book raised money for research into Parkinson's. Picture: ARCHANT

David Johnson, from Acton near Sudbury, was well known for writing about his village, and for a teaching career spanning more than 30 years.

In the latter years, Mr Johnson lived with Parkinson’s and raised hundreds of pounds for a charity supporting people with the illness.

Born in Suffolk in 1932, Mr Johnson taught English and humanities in Sudbury from 1965, firstly at the Boys’ Secondary School in Mill Lane, then moving to Uplands Middle School in the early 1970s. He took early retirement in 1988 but continued at Uplands as a supply teacher until 1995.

Mr Johnson’s wife Christine said: “I still come across people David taught who say he was strict and could be fierce but he was always very fair.”

David Johnson (right) teamed up with local organist Brendan Darnell to put on a concert to raise money for Parkinsons UK. Left to right, Brendan Darnell and David Johnson. 


EADT 24.4.12David Johnson (right) teamed up with local organist Brendan Darnell to put on a concert to raise money for Parkinsons UK. Left to right, Brendan Darnell and David Johnson. EADT 24.4.12

When Mr Johnson moved to Acton in 1966, he formed a youth club and also started the annual village litter pick. He continued to keep Acton tidy with his own weekly litter pick until 2015.

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He was Chairman of Governors at Acton School, and of Acton Village Hall & Playing Fields Association. He ran the annual village fete and contributed to the Village History Recorder.

His interest in local history came after discovering All Saints Church, in Acton, needed urgent repairs.

Christine and David JohnsonChristine and David Johnson

Mrs Johnson said: “David asked people in the village to contribute old photographs so he could stage a history exhibition in the church to raise money for the repairs. It all progressed from there.”

The exhibitions proved so popular, he collated the information into a book entitled Notes on the History of Acton which has sold over 3,000 copies and continues to raise money for the church. His exhibition was later staged in Acton USA, which was named after its Suffolk equivalent.

Mr Johnson was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2000 but was determined to continue most of his activities. In 2008 he wrote a book entitled Suffolk Dream Chickens, about his father farming in Suffolk, to raise money for Parkinson’s UK. He also organised concerts in the church for the charity.

In 2019 he moved to St Joseph’s Care Home in Sudbury where he died peacefully on October 20. He leaves a daughter Claire, and grandson, Sam.

• Mr Johnson’s funeral is at Acton church on Friday, November 6 at 1pm by invitation only but the coffin will pass through the village on its way to the church for others to pay their respects.

Donations in his memory in aid of Parkinson’s UK are invited via the funeral directors


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