John Bennett played a major role in securing charitable status for Friends of the Towans, and became our treasurer in 2021.
Born in Newcastle, brought up in Bath, John fell in love with the Towans when he married Hayle girl Megan Coombe. Megan’s family home was above Hayle beach, at the Bluff, and this introduced John to the remarkable landscape and unique environment of the beach, the Towans and the hinterland of the town of Hayle.
A very successful career as an electrical engineer in charge of major projects around the world saw John and his family living in Saudi Arabia and then the USA, where they were based in Bedford, near Boston Massachusetts. Megan sadly died from cancer in 2000.
John found happiness again when he married Donna Anton, and they decided to relocate from Boston to Hayle in 2004. Setting up home in the bungalow above the beach, John and Donna soon became heavily involved in the life of the community. Always keen to expand their knowledge and understanding, he and Donna learned more about the history, heritage, and natural environment of Cornwall. John was an advocate of greater protection for the environment, and when they rebuilt the house on the Towans, they ensured that it had the least possible impact on the environment, and the most modern technology.
John became involved in many organisations. His willingness to get stuck in and take control of areas such as computer set-ups or taking on the role of treasurer ensured he was an asset to every project he embraced. He was elected as a district councillor, joined Hayle Town Council, and supported the work of the Hayle Day Care Centre, Cornwall Archeological Society, Hayle in Bloom, Save our Sands, Harvey’s Foundry Trust, Hayle Pump and many others.
Most notable was his leadership of the renovation of the Passmore Edwards Institute. John procured grant money for the project, and after he re-established the organisation’s Trustees, the rooms of the institute were improved, and a new roof and lantern made sure it was fit for purpose once again.
As a promoter of schemes for the protection and enhancement of the Hayle Harbour, including an attempt to bring it into local ownership, he led the work producing the Hayle Neighbourhood Plan. His project proposals and supporting documentation were always detailed, and his research comprehensive. Sadly, it was only at his untimely and unexpected death that we all realised just how much John did, and now many organisations he helped.
He supported the work of the Friends of the Towans from the start. His daily walks with his dogs on the Towans gave him a detailed understanding of the landscape and the negative impact they were experiencing. His council work provided him with an appreciation of planning and forms of protection, and his collaboration with like-minded colleagues established the charity, and honed its aims and objectives
Friends of the Towans has dedicated a bench at North Quay in John’s memory – his family are pictured here with it. His legacy must be that the organisation successfully fulfils its remit of protecting and promoting the unique environment that is the Towans.