Salute to John Izod

St Mary’s church had all seats filled for the service of thanksgiving for the life of John Izod yesterday, writes Kenneth Bird. Recollections and personal reflections were offered by members of John’s family, by Ian Potter and by Canon David Frost, who conducted the service. John was rightly the star of the show, seen as a young man in military uniform on the back cover of the programme sheet, with his drawing and cartoons of Rye liberally sprinkled inside – a collector’s item.

With the singing of Jerusalem, and I vow to thee my country, we caught something of his English gentleman’s nature, but all else was mischief, his love of jazz and good company, and his sense of fun. His Canadian son Max recalled a visit on one bonfire night watching the procession of dark figures carrying burning torches; John whispered in his ear: “this is the nearest you’ll get to the Ku Klux Klan”.

John’s multi-faceted talents as artist, actor, and raconteur, often with pint in hand, were recalled with affection. So too was his contribution to the town of Rye that he came to love. He was deeply involved in community affairs, serving on the town council and many voluntary organisation committees. These included first and foremost perhaps the Rye Bonfire Society, but also at various times the Rye Arts Festival, Rye & District Community Transport and the Rye Chernobyl Children’s committee. He was a founder member of the Rye Film Club and Rye News. Wherever his interest lay, he matched this with a real commitment, and still found time for his painting and cartoons.

John Izod as a young soldier
John Izod as a young soldier

Fittingly, the service ended with selection of John’s favourite jazz, played on the organ by Phil Law. The company then joined the procession from the church to The George, where the reception was held.

Christopher Strangeways adds, 

The service began with a procession down the aisle of the Town Council in full robes and regalia including the two magnificent gilded maces. Jonathan Breeds on one of his first ceremonial duties as mayor led the councillors accompanied by the town clerk in his wig.

The town council were not the only grand sight in the church as just behind them sat the representatives of the Rye Bonfire Society in their no less splendid red coats and regalia.

We heard first from Andrew Izod – John’s youngest brother-who said how much he looked up to his older brother and suggested we look at the photograph of John as a young soldier on the back of our service sheets which were also illustrated by some of John’s drawings. Andrew read the familiar verses about “Charity” from St Paul’s letter to Corinthians as his tribute to John and they seemed somehow very appropriate to John’s life.

Photos: Mike Slavin and Christopher Strangeways


  1. Wednesdays service for John was, thankfully, an almost joyful occasion. The only missing element was a New Orleans style parade with accompaning jazz band. Having known John since I was a teenager some 60 years ago, I know he would have been delighted with the tributes Max , Patrick and Andrew gave.
    But there was more to him (no time!) not mentioned. He was such also a loyal
    friend to my young family and especially my grandson, never talking down to them, spending hours with them, joining in with them . Having arranged to pop over to our house he enquired about them beforehand, and was told that my 7 year old son had a friend staying and that they had just been to Karate lessons. turned up in a taxi in karate-like pyjamas, leapt out of the taxi and straight into fight mode on the pavement. The ‘fight went on for about 20 minutes and had advanced into the sitting room. Those boys, and the taxi driver did not know what had hit them! They slept well that night!
    He had the skill to be a friend to anyone . He will be missed by my family and I.

  2. As a former President of the Toronto Nomads Rugby Club I first met John in 1970 when i arrived in Canada from Brazil.We appeared in a couple of Pantomimes together as a couple of Bovva Boys and especially as Tweedle Dumb(john)and Tweedle Dee when of couse we sang the song of the same name!he visited me in New Zealand with his then “Good Lady Wife ” Fran and I spoke to him many times on the phone in Rye.His annual post cards at Christmas will be sadly missed .I have met full many men since I first commenced to roam but nowhere yet such enthusiasm for life have i seen!(app to Banjo Patterson)THough it hurt him he willingly acknowledged the All Blacks superioity!

  3. Even though John was a member of our main rivals the Toronto Nomads he was always seen as a key memeber of the rugby community at large, liked and respected by all. John was a natural speaker for the head table at our annual Burns Supper and filled the role admirably giving us all an entertaining and humourus presentation.
    Johns talents were appreciated by many and will be missed by all.

    Chris Stafford
    Past President Toronto Scottish RFC


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