Who was John Wickersham?
John Howard Wickersham was born in Horsham, Sussex in June 1942. The oldest of three children he got his first taste of caravanning during family holidays in the 1950’s. It was an activity he loved and he went on to take his own four children on caravanning holidays in the UK and abroad.
He was a keen sportsman and went on to become a teacher, with physical education one of his key subjects. In 1966 he married Carole Dawson in Beeston, Notts. before moving to Loughborough. Whilst there, he gained a Master’s degree at Loughborough university.
By this time John’s writing skills were well established and he began to write about his hobbies too. He penned no less than 11 manuals for Haynes Publishing, eventually becoming a consultant to them. The books covered caravans, motorhomes and self-build projects along with home repair and renovation. He also wrote the Installation Manual for Absorption Refrigerators, and The David & Charles Manual of Roofing.
In 1976 John became Principal Lecturer and Director of Sport at Bedford College of Higher Education, a position he held until December 1992. Subsequently John lectured at Cambridge and De Montfort universities and became a radio and TV broadcaster for the BBC, LBC and Channel 5.
Always one to lead by example John was actively involved in surf and white-water canoeing, rock climbing, hill walking and skiing. He also became a Gold Ranking Standard Orienteer.
John joined The Caravan Writers’ Guild in 1986 and served on the committee for several years.
During his long and prolific career John wrote regularly on technical matters for just about all the consumer magazines in the caravan industry. His articles were always well written and informative. He had a depth of understanding that few could rival.
One of his pet subjects was batteries and leisure batteries in particular. With so many different brands on the market John was always keen to sort the wheat from the chaff.
For him there was only one way to do so and that was to cut them open. In true ‘do not try this at home’ style he would take a big saw and hack right through them. It was the stuff of legend and gained him a reputation like no other.
In 2010 John joined the Guild’s tour of Ireland. One morning we visited the Guinness brewery in Dublin. John never drank and was not interested in seeing the brewery. Nevertheless, he joined us on the coach with the declared intention of spending the morning studying the architecture of the city. On the drive in he declared it did not live up to his expectations and was persuaded to see the brewery after all. To our delight he found the brewery’s architecture to be fascinating.
In the last few years John found a new outlet for his talents as a presenter for the Caravan Channel. Many of the videos he shot have found their way onto YouTube, making him a household name, at least in those establishments with caravans. He talks about everything from windows to water pumps, often drawing on his many years of experience to add interest.
John died in December 2015 after a long battle with cancer. He was a one off, full of character, brimming with energy and always smiling – a true inspiration to all of us. His legacy will live on for many years to come.