Farewell to Two Notable Village Residents

Hambledon friends of Philip Underwood and The Rev John Postill will have been saddened to hear of their recent deaths. Their families have agreed to the village website posting details of funeral and thanksgiving service arrangements.

Both made a considerable contribution to community life in Hambledon and we include tributes further down in this article.

The life of John Postill will be celebrated at a thanksgiving service at Busbridge Church at 2pm on Saturday October 21st.

Philip Underwood’s funeral will take place at St Peter’s, Hambledon, on Tuesday October 24th at 11.30am. To help with numbers, it would be appreciated if you could respond to the following email address if you are planning on attending – pju2023@underwood.me.uk

Few people have done as much for the village – and across such a wide range of activities – as Philip Underwood who, with his wife Pauline and family, arrived in the area in the 1970s to establish a veterinary practice.

He went on to become the organiser of the village fete including running the ever-popular dog show, managing the village community shop for several years at a challenging time, and sharing his wealth of knowledge and love of butterflies, insects and wildlife generally at Village Hall talks, often illustrated by his skills as a photographer.

In addition, he was a parish councillor for 36 years, joining in 1987 and only retiring in May this year. He was deputy to John Anderson for many years, so it is fitting that John pays tribute, which can be found at the end of this page.

John Postill and his wife Jeannie arrived in the village in 1997 upon his appointment as assistant minister to Busbridge and Hambledon. Much of his ministry was at St Peter’s Church. Both engaged fully with the village and remained as residents after John’s retirement in 2003.

Personal Reflections by John Anderson

“My wife and I first met Philip in 1978. As soon as we announced that we were acquiring a poodle puppy, our neighbours at The Old Cottage – Irenie Libbiter & Evelyn Walker – insisted we must enlist him as our vet. We duly did so and a long association ensued. Every one of our dogs loved visiting Philip: quite a feat for a vet! He was always professional, but also so kind.

Philip was all of that in everything he did. He gave maximum care and attention to his village, Hambledon. He ran the Village Fete for many years, and of course a highlight was invariably the dog show which he judged, always making sure that he spread the rosettes across the board. Our poodles won a few, but so did every breed and type in the village! He ran the dog show from 1980 to 2022, always to the delight of the fete-goers.

Philip was a strong supporter of the Village Shop, and he was instrumental in keeping it going. “Use it or lose it” was his motto in the difficult times as we discussed options for the shop during board meetings under George Pitt’s chairmanship. Philip invested a great many hours in the shop, including managing it outright for a number of years.

One night I rang Philip to suggest that he put himself forward for the Parish Council. He accepted and went on to serve from 1987 to 2023. He was always forthright and never more so than on planning issues.

When I became chairman he became my deputy, and was an invaluable support. He was keen on progress in Hambledon, wanting it to move forward, to achieve new goals for all and not stand still. He was an enthusiastic supporter of affordable housing in the village.

He also represented Hambledon Church on the Parish Council, fully backing its aims and aspirations for the future, including that of the ministry with Busbridge and Godalming, which is now underway.

His interests included looking after the village pond, an extension of his knowledge and keen interest in nature: butterflies, birds, wildlife and fungi. He enlisted volunteers to clear it of weeds so that its habitat could be reinvigorated.

He spent time with Stephen Dean, walking the Common to understand the conservation there, as well as jointly looking after the grass verge next to the shop. They worked out a rota for grass cutting in order to give the flowers, birds and insects the time to enjoy the long grasses. The crux of the negotiation was with the Cricket Club, which was averse to losing balls in the long grass!

Philip also enjoyed photography, adding to our records of the seasons and village events.

I cannot end without mentioning his vineyard venture at Puttenham. He took such pleasure out of that, showing his love of good food and drink amidst his other interests.

He adored his family and spent time travelling to be with those living abroad. He was a man of enthusiasm, of eclectic interests, and of passionate attention to detail.

He was a man that Hambledon is especially fortunate to have had in our midst for so many years. We will all miss him. I know all in the Village join me in sending love and sympathy to Pauline and all the family.”

Philip’s son Jon adds that his father qualified as a veterinary surgeon at London University in 1965, starting work in Buckinghamshire before moving to Surrey a few years later where his father-in-law had found suitable premises to open a surgery with a business partner.

Philip’s many talents and interests included canal boating and for a while he was involved in running a fleet of narrow boats, as well as playing the clarinet and helping run a small music group.

After the family arrived at Lane End in 1984, and with the practice expanding, Philip and his business partner Bill Croxson acquired land on the Hog’s Back where they established the Greyfriars Vineyard in 1989, a pioneering venture at that time.

Since retiring, Philip remained busy, with his involvement in the shop, the parish council, the fete and Hambledon Church, as well as pursuing his interest in photography, bird and butterfly watching, studying fungi and dog walking.

John Postill

The Rev John Postill was born in Hull in October 1935, close to a large church where, at the age of eight, he joined its choir. Singing became one of his major interests.

He was educated at Marist College in the city and was not, on his own admission, the most diligent of students. However, he pursued his love of music by playing clarinet in the school orchestra.

On leaving, he continued singing in a choir while doing part-time jobs including pushing the food trolley on local trains. Her served with the RAF for three years, after which he took a job in the local council’s engineers department and resumed his singing.

It was at this time he met Jeannie. She, along with a local curate, encouraged John to discover more about the message contained in the music he loved and he joined a church group. They married in 1961.

Together they continued working with the church and John was approached and asked if he had considered ordination. According to Jeannie, this came as quite a surprise to John. After a period of reflection, he enrolled at Oak Hill theological college in North London, while Jeannie enrolled at a bible college in Kent.

On completion of his studies, John was appointed curate to a church in Crawley, West Sussex, in 1968 and Jeannie gave birth to their first child, Richard.

A move north to a church in Bradford and the birth of their daughter Elizabeth followed in 1970. Four years later and the family were on the move again, this time to a rural parish in Norfolk where John was appointed team vicar, and then to Slaugham, West Sussex, where he was rector, remaining there for 18 years for before his arrival in Hambledon as assistant minister in 1997.

John and Jeannie continued to live in Hambledon after his retirement 20 years ago and were active in the community for many years. Sadly, John’s health deteriorated in recent years. Jeannie said: “The last nine months have been spent in and out of hospital and nursing home. A painful time, but fortunately a brief time within the span of a 62-year marriage”.

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John Hindley
John Hindley
7 months ago

All so sad, very well written, but ‘the link below’ was hard to find – yet when found, yielded John Anderson’s excellent tribute