‘So that’s your lot, may all your dreams come true. I know mine did’. These were the words of traveller John Treagood, told to friends who today mourned at his funeral.
Friends from all walks of life, and John’s dog, staffy-cross Hale, gathered at East Devon Crematorium, Whimple, on Thursday, February 27, to remember the ‘legend’ who died peacefully this month, on February 9.
John’s final journey was in a funeral carriage led by a pair of horses, dressed in black drapes and plumes.
His coffin was topped with his favourite brown leather hat, battered by years of wear and adventures.
After kind words and memories from friends, mourners sat and remembered John as they listened to ‘I Did It My Way’, by Frank Sinatra.
The celebration of John’s life was led by Mark Gilborson, who spoke about the traveller’s life on the road and tales from those who helped him along the way.
Mourners heard how John’s death, marked the ‘end of an era’ as no longer would his colourful caravan and grazing horse be seen on the roadsides of East Devon.
Mr Gilborson said: “John lived his life to a different drum beat. Sometimes he was in sync with us, sometimes his own drum beat was a totally different path.”
Tributes from friends included a eulogy from Jeff Herrington, retired World Horse Welfare charity field officer, who became an ally to John over the years.
He praised John’s generous nature, thanking him for his kindness.
John wrote a series of books about his life on the road and donated the proceeds of two to the World Horse Welfare charity.
When John’s beloved first horse Gildor died in 2015, it was Jeff who came to put the ill old horse to sleep on the Ide roundabout.
Jeff said his and John’s relationship grew out of mutual trust and respect.
He said: “I helped him say farewell to his beloved Gildor. I was proud and happy to make his passing a little bit more bearable. He was so grateful for that support.”
John Treagood was born in Kent on January 14, 1936. He never met his parents and was raised by his grandparents.
At the age of 15, John ran away from home. At 17 years old he joined the Army, forging his grandfather’s signature so he could join a year before the sign-up age.
He fought for his country for six years and lost the sight in one eye in the process.
When he received medical discharge money from the Army, John used the payment to educate himself – first in medieval history, then a PHD in environmental studies, going on to become a lecturer in the subject.
Eventually John decided ‘enough was enough’, and walked away from his life.
He initially intended the walk would be a six-month break. But he extended it to a year, then two – until life on the road lasted more than 40 years.
- A retiring collection was made to the World Horse Welfare. For more about the charity’s work, or to donate in John Treagood’s memory, see here.
To read a tribute to traveller John Treagood see here