SANDOWN man John Howell, who gave his time to many local organisations, has died at 79.

Mr Howell was born in Hemel Hempsted in 1940, to parents Leonard and Lydia, and four years later his younger sister Sandra arrived to complete the family.

He won a scholarship at 11 to attend Berkhempstead Public Boys School for two years, before the family moved to Shanklin.

In 1957 he was diagnosed with a lung condition and spent nearly a year in hospital in Ventnor, where the Botanic Garden is now situated.

Once recovered, he gained a City and Guilds in TV and radio engineering, and started his career.

On his birthday in 1962 he met future wife Jean at a dance in The Trouville Hotel on Sandown Esplanade. She was also out celebrating her birthday, which was the following day.

As both had employment in London they journeyed back together, and eight months later they married at St Blasius Church, Shanklin. They were married for 57 years.

They lived in North Finchley with daughters Cheryl and Laura, while Mr Howell was area manager of Gibbards TV and Radio.

Following this they returned to the Island in 1966 and bought a run-down property, Grafton House in Sandown, which after a labour of love they ran as a hotel for 21 years.

Another daughter, Louise, arrived in 1974.

Mr Howell got involved in local groups including the Sandown Hoteliers, Sandown Carnival Association, Sandown Twinning Association (which he helped set up) and various historical associations.

He was a member of Sandown Masonic Lodge from 1971 and a co-founder of the Compass Group.

In the early '80s, he was ahead of the game in environmental issues when he founded Wastesavers, for recycling paper and plastics.

In 1990 Mr and Mrs Howell took on a restaurant in Bembridge, the Square Rigger, where they built a thriving business for 11 years and made many new friends.

John loved music, particularly jazz, and he enjoyed spinning his wife around the dancefloor, having taken dance lessons in his later years.

He enjoyed travelling, cruising and any new adventure. He loved the sun and always liked to holiday in a warmer climate.

Among his hobbies were clay pigeon shooting, learning to fly a plane and playing golf.

He leaves his wife, daughters, six grandchildren and one great granddaughter.