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Barling & Wakering Villages Plus
The Piper of Wakering: John Stow 1938-2012

Article compiled by Dave Lee

with the help of John’s wife Rita and his three daughters Tina, Karen and Erica.

28 September 2016


John was married to his wife Rita in 1958 and it was through one of her cousins he was introduced to becoming a member of the Southend Pipe Band, even though he had not played any musical instrument before, he soon learnt to read music and competently play the bagpipes.

The Southend Pipe Band were often invited to attend parades on the Continent and would fly from Southend Airport as can be seen in the photo below. John is located in the photo at back row far right.

John lived in the Wakering area for most of his life, the only exception was when he was called-up in the final draft for National Service and he was assigned to the Grenadier Guards.

The colour photo below is of the Southend Pipe Band wearing their busbies during a Great Wakering carnival parade in the 1960s, taken by John’s  dad Bill from outside of his High Street shop.

Apart from being an active member of the Southend Pipe Band; he was also a crack marksman belonging to a local rifle club and won many trophies during his life long membership.


John spent most of his working life as a painter and decorator, initially working in his father’s business, W.H. Stow and Son, and then continued independently working in the trade after his father retired and sold the family business.

I will always remember John as a good friend with a great sense of humour.

John was born in North Street, Great Wakering in 1938, the son of Bill and Ivy Stow and a few years later he was joined by his sister Wendy. The photo above shows John when he was about 5 years of age with his sister Wendy and their mother Ivy.

This photo extract of John was taken of him playing in a Southend-on-Sea carnival parade. The full photo is also shown above, to the right. John is the second piper behind the drum major.

The above photo was taken on a trip to Germany. Occasionally the band member’s partners would be given the opportunity for them to travel abroad with them.