Much-loved Stroud and Stonehouse police officer dies aged 78

A much-loved Stroud police officer and Gloucester Crown Court security guard has died aged 78 following a battle with pulmonary fibrosis.

John Merrett, from Brimscombe, passed away on May 12 at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, leaving behind him a legacy of work contributing to the Gloucestershire community.

He is fondly remembered by his colleagues in the RAF, Stroud and Stonehouse police stations, Gloucester court, and the Gloucestershire Police Male Voice Choir.

“He was somebody who was very happy and laid back, and would do anything for anybody. A good, all-round, loving father, husband and worker,” said his daughter Katie Merrett.

Stroud News and Journal: John Merrett at his retirement celebration in Gloucester Crown Court, where he was put in the dock by Judge Jamie TaborJohn Merrett at his retirement celebration in Gloucester Crown Court, where he was put in the dock by Judge Jamie Tabor

John, who retired from Gloucester Crown Court in 2015, was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis last year after collapsing in June.

He lived with oxygen support in Brimscombe with Katie and his wife Marilyn until May 8, when he was admitted to hospital with a lung infection.

“The care he received in Gloucestershire Royal was absolutely pristine, you really could not fault what all those lovely doctors and nurses did,” said Katie, one of John’s five children: Ali, Elizabeth, Jon and Susan.

She said John, who had been married 54 years, passed away peacefully four days later at 1.30pm surrounded by his family, a little over two weeks before his wedding anniversary.

Stroud News and Journal: John Merrett, centre right, and his familyJohn Merrett, centre right, and his family

“It was surreal that we were all there together and able to share that moment. I felt a sense of relief for him. That might sound a bit weird but he was no longer suffering. He was a proud man, he didn’t want all that.

“He’s lived a great full life but it’s still such a shock to lose him to a horrible, debilitating disease that robs you of your breath.”

She added that the words of dozens of former colleagues and friends had brought her comfort.

Judge Jamie Tabor, who worked with John at Gloucester Crown Court and whom John more than once jokingly locked inside the courtroom, said John was an extraordinary man.

Stroud News and Journal:

Longstanding friend and colleague Richard Dando said: “He was such a compassionate, considerate and understanding man – once met, never forgotten.”

“We had so many giggles – a lot of them at John’s expense – but he was absolutely brilliant,” said Richard’s wife Alison, explaining how they had once left a fake clamp on John’s car and encouraged him to call The Big Sheep and ask for DCI Shephard.

“But he was also someone you could go to if you had a problem or you were upset,” she added, recalling how he carried Richard down the steps of Crown Court after he had an injury.

Chief Constable Rod Hansen said: “John diligently served the people of Gloucestershire as a Police Constable displaying courage and professionalism.

“I thank him for his dedicated public service and wish to pass on my sincere condolences, on behalf of the Constabulary, to John’s family and friends at this very sad time.”

John started work as a police officer in Kingswood before moving on to Lydney, then Coleford, Stonehouse and finally Stroud.

He left the force in 1988, when he became a security guard at Berkeley power station.

He moved to Gloucester Crown Court in 2002 and spent 13 years there. The first question he would ask every new person coming through the door, staff or otherwise, was whether they could sing. He recruited one person to Gloucestershire Police Male Voice Choir during his tenure at the court.

Katie and Marylin hope to hold a service at Gloucester Cathedral, where the choir had previously performed, once Covid-19 rules permit it.

John is survived by his wife Marilyn, his five children, Ali, Elizabeth, Jon, Katie and Susan, and six grandchildren.

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