Colchester: Kent Blaxill director John Kent dies at the age of 82

JOHN Kent, a director of East Anglian building supplies company Kent Blaxill for 55 years, has died at the age of 82 after a short illness.

Mr Kent, a fifth generation descendent of the founder of Colchester-based Kent Blaxill, was also heavily involved for many years in a number of organisations in Colchester and his home village of Nayland.

He was born in Colchester in 1930, the eldest of three children who were all evacuated to Bradford during the Second World War. He attended Colchester Grammar School and then Pangbourne College where his interest in sports resulted in him at one point running as a pacemaker for Roger Bannister during the latter’s preparations to become the first man to break the four minute mile.

After school he signed up as a cadet with Royal Mail Lines, sailing the world for three and a half years. He first joined Kent Blaxill in 1950, gaining experience in all departments before being called up to the Royal Navy for National Service, which he spent largely in the Mediterranean on anti-submarine duties with HMS Myngs.

He returned to Kent Blaxill in 1953, becoming a director in 1957 and the company’s first sales director in 1960.

At that time Kent Blaxill was based in Colchester High Street, where the business suffered from traffic problems, and Mr Kent argued successfully for the company’s relocation to its present headquarters in Layer Road in 1963, since when it has expected to become a regional operation with eight branches.

Mr Kent served as a member of a number of trade associations, including terms as chairman of the Colchester and District Ironmongers and Builders’ Merchants Association, the North East Essex and Suffolk National Federation of Ironmongers, and the Guild of Architectural Ironmongers.

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Outside of work, he was involved in organisations including the British Legion, Nayland and Wissington Conservative Association, Colchester Round Table, Colchester Rotary Club, Nayland Village Hall committee, Colchester Golf Club, the Colchester Old People’s Welfare Association, the YMCA Eastern Region Division Council and the University of Essex University Association.

Mr Kent is survived by his wife Jean, daughters Elizabeth and Hilary and two grandchildren. His funeral was attended by many past and present staff from Kent Blaxill.