Posted: November 26th, 2020
JOHN CAPEL, long-serving Daily Mirror compositor, and later FOC of the Daily Mirror Composing Room Chapel, died on February 13 , aged 90.
John joined the Daily Mirror in 1954/5. In the latter part of his time there, he was involved in the paper’s transition from hot metal to photo-composition. His wife Vivian remembers: “John had to polish up his typing skills, and went on a work trip to Boston in America to see how they operated the new system.”
The latter part of his time as FOC was spent dealing with Robert Maxwell. Vivian said: “John took early retirement in 1985/6 when Maxwell was ‘wielding his axe’, which was a huge surprise to me as he loved his job and always said he was lucky to work with a great bunch of lads.
“He went on to have a long and happy retirement playing golf and bridge, and attending all of Chelsea’s home matches.”
John Capel was born and raised in Bromley with his sister. He was still living at home during the war and his school life was interrupted by air raids – he sometimes watched the aerial battles in the skies over South London.
When John left school he joined a small printing firm in Lewisham where he first met his wife-to-be Vivian, in about 1946. John and Vivian were married in 1950, and settled in Wilmington, near Dartford, where they raised their two sons and their daughter.
The couple used to go for long bike rides around the countryside in Kent, and were keen theatregoers as well as supporters of the National Trust and English Heritage. Vivian recalls: “John and I also used to play squash together, and later on we played table tennis on top of his snooker table. He loved that. We had a couple of foreign holidays to Yugoslavia and Portugal, plus holidays in England, Guernsey and Scotland.”
John was a keen gardener and would have a go at most DIY jobs. He was also very supportive of minority groups and would march for the NHS nurses, for example. An AMP member from the early days, he was involved in supporting the efforts regarding the Maxwell Mirror pension scandal.
Vivian said: “Unfortunately John had dementia for the last four years of his life, and those years were hard. I looked after him at home for as long as possible, but he eventually went into a home when it got too much for me, just for the last few months. I do miss him, we used to do so much together.”
By BILL ROWNTREE, former Mirror Group photographer
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