MANY tributes have been paid today (Monday, 2 January) to local licensee John Veriker following the announcement of his death.
For decades, since taking over the Bell at Horndon on the Hill from his in-laws in 1970 and running it with his wife Christine, John was the face of one of the region’s top hostelries, which won many national awards.
And John and Christine have been recognised as the reason for its success. As recently as 2021 in the Good Pub Guide 2021 John Vereker was named as one of the country’s top ten licensees with the guide saying: “At the heart of every special pub, be it a simple tavern or stylish dining pub, are landlords and landladies that are the driving force behind these gems.”
John trained at Pangbourne Nautical College and sailed to Africa and Australia as a junior officer with the Blue Star line. But when his ship hove to at Tilbury he would – like many another good sailor – make his way up the hill to the Bell he recalled “they served a good pint”.
There he met Christine – and the rest is history!
Following the announcement of John’s death, hundred of people have paid tribute on social media and you can read many of them on the pub’s Facebook page, via this link.
A simple message on the site sums up John, who was born in 1935.
It says: “Publican and Gentleman. An amazing life, lived magnificently with joy, kindness and passion, which touched so many other lives and made them better.”