Practical Motorhome is deeply sorry to share the news that our hugely-respected colleague and technical wizard John Wickersham has passed away, aged 73. He died after a characteristically hard-fought battle with illness.
A passionate motorhome owner who toured far and wide, there was nothing John didn't know about our pastime that wasn't worth knowing.
He started caravanning in the 1950s and became a true institution within the leisure vehicle world, having contributed to all of the major club and independent magazines, authored the ‘bible’ of the pastime, The Motorcaravan Manual, and become particularly well-known in recent years for his entertaining and informative appearances on The Motorhome Channel, which is co-produced by Practical Motorhome.
John even built his own motorhome. Based on a Fiat Ducato chassis, he christened it Mystique and toured across Europe in it. He particularly enjoyed exploring Spain and Cornwall, and the expertise he learned from the build process and touring he shared in his expert advice articles. We are sure many of you will have enjoyed reading these, and meeting and seeing him in action on stage at our Reader Rallies. On screen, as on paper, John oozed passion for motorcaravanning, his deep knowledge backed up by an infectious enthusiasm.
“John was that rare thing: someone who had an incredible knowledge of a technical subject, but who could explain it in terms everyone could understand,” said Niall Hampton, Editor of Practical Motorhome. “His qualifications were peerless. This was a man who built not just his own motorhome and caravan, but also cars, a boat and even his own house. He will be much missed by Practical Motorhome’s staff, readers and the wider leisure vehicle industry.”
“I’ve had the pleasure of knowing John and working with him for more than three decades,” added regular magazine contributor Gentleman Jack Bancroft. “His background (like mine) was in the education service where he was a gifted and well-liked lecturer, captivating students with his natural enthusiasm for the subject and passing information and skills on to all – regardless of ability – motivating them to achieve far more than they might have first thought.
“In fact he never stopped teaching, as he ‘taught’ all of us who read his books, watched him on TV and attended his many lectures. As with all members of his audience, I never stopped learning from him and will continue to do so after his sad passing, such is the quality and relevance of the cannon of work he has left behind.
“It will be his enthusiasm for DIY that I shall miss the most. We both shared the view that there is nothing more fulfilling than making something yourself from scratch, or just fixing something broken or mal-functioning. Goodbye, friend and colleague.”
Practical Motorhome technical contributor Tom Bedworth worked with John Wickersham on many occasions over the years.
“John and I both enjoyed engineering, caravans and motorhomes, and wrote for associated magazines. John was the master. His skills were renowned and his advice always first class. But John’s working background was not in this field at all. He was Principal Lecturer and Director of Sport at Bedford College of Higher Education for over 16 years commencing in 1974 and in charge of a university degree course in Sports Studies. Always trim and fit, he was a genuine outdoor enthusiast, whether it was climbing, canoeing, sailing, skiing or walking. He even excelled on a unicycle.
“John was the organiser of caravan instructional courses, a writer and illustrator, and the author of instruction manuals for the caravan industry. He was always keeping up with technology for his own website and had appeared on The Motorhome Channel on a regular basis. He was also behind the scenes prodding and assisting other bodies like the NCC to better the world of motorcaravanning for the public. John will leave a big hole in many people’s lives and also a big hole in all the journals where he could be relied upon for expert but totally practical advice.”
As aforementioned, in recent years, John turned his hand very successfully to TV, contributing technical advice and reviews to The Motorhome Channel.
“To work with he was a consummate professional – incredibly knowledgeable and always enthusiastic,” said Kiaron Finnegan, executive producer of the show and Head of Channels at Information TV.
“On a personal level he was a wonderful man, a joy to be around, and he will be very badly missed by all.”
We extend our deepest sympathies to John's family and friends.