Born and brought up in superlative St George, John was educated at St Giles School, then Combermere High School, representing Combermere at first team level in Barbados first division cricket competition.
In 1964, he migrated to the UK under London Transport’s recruitment scheme to work on the Underground as a guard. The BBC invited him to play in its cricket team, where he joined two other Barbadians , Rodney Norville and the late Dr Bertie Clarke. At this stage he bowled genuinely fast and Dr Clarke recommended him to Hampshire to play county cricket.
A serious back injury brought an end to his County career, after which he moved back to Barbados briefly. An offer to return to the UK and go to Lancashire to play as professional in League cricket saw him leave Barbados for the second time. League cricket was much less stressful, playing just at weekends rather than seven days a week at County Level.
In his mid-thirties and with his playing career coming to an end, he joined the English First Class Umpires Panel, where he was employed for twenty seven years. In 1988, history was made when he was appointed to stand in his first Test match, at Lord’s. He was the first black person to stand in a Test match in England. The following year while umpiring he became part of the first neutral umpires, when he was chosen to officiate in the Test series in Pakistan with India, in total he stood in eleven Tests, twenty three ODI’s and several finals.
In 1989 he was chosen by the ECB as the English umpire to stand in the Nehru Cup in India. This was a series of ODI’s staged to commemorate the centenary of the former Prime Minister Nehru’s birth. He became a full member of MCC in 1999, going on seven tours with teams to Kenya (twice), Greece, Italy, Uganda, Namibia and the Cayman Islands. He was also a member of MCC’s Laws working Party, a panel which drafts the laws of cricket worldwide.
In 2008 the ICC appointed him as a Regional Umpires Performance Manager with responsibility for Europe, the Caribbean and the Americas, a post he held until his decision to retire at the end of 2010, due to spending so snrouch time away from home and family. After retirement he a as elected president of the Lancashire Association of Cricket Officials. This year he was elected president of the newly formed Pennine Cricket League and more recently president of the Rotary Club of Rochdale.