John Edwards, 86, ran popular Burnham High Street business Material Needs with his wife Katharine

Warm tributes have been paid to a Burnham-On-Sea resident who has sadly passed away after a period of illness.

John Edwards, 86, ran popular Burnham High Street business Material Needs with his wife Katharine for many years, winning national awards for being the best retailer in the UK at the British Craft Awards several times.

John was also a familiar face as Chairman of Burnham Chamber of Trade from 2005-2007, and between 2017-2018. He also served as President from 2015-2020.

He also was the Founding Treasurer of the Burnham and Highridge Regeneration Partnership from 2004-2006 and served on Burnham’s Civic Pride group between 2007-2011.

John also served as Treasurer for Somerset Tourism Association from 2007-2012 and was also Treasurer of Burnham’s Crosses Penn Trust from 2020-2022.

Somerset Tourism Association’s former Chairman, Bob Nicholson MBE, says: “I was very fortunate to know John in a professional capacity as well as a very real friend. John served as honorary Treasurer whilst as a member of the Sedgemoor Tourism Association at the same time that I was serving as Chairman.”

“In 2009 a decision was made by the members of the Association to expand and form the Somerset Tourism Association. I and the members were extremely fortunate that John was able to use his vast professional experience to successfully produce the articles of association required by a community interest company without any problems.”

“His service to the town and county has been very much appreciated by his fellow business colleagues and friends. We will miss his calm and light hearted way he always conducted himself. Thank you John.”

Burnham Chamber of Trade’s Mark Newman adds: “John worked extremely hard for the benefit of local traders through the Chamber over many years in several roles. His in-depth experience and knowledge of business was greatly respected. He also launched the Chamber’s first edition of the successful Shopper’s Guide leaflets which promote the town centre across the region.”

“On retiring from his President’s role in 2020, he was elected by the Chamber of Trade as an honourary life member in recognition of all his work over the years. We will miss him hugely and our sympathies go to his family.”

Mike Murphy from the Crosses Penn Trust adds: “It was with much sadness that I learned of the passing of John Edwards. He was a valued Trustee and Treasurer of the Crosses Penn Trust and a long standing friend. John was truly a gentleman who gave unstintingly of his considerable business acumen and accountancy knowledge to many right up to a few weeks before his passing. He will be kindly remembered for his ready smile and continued support.”

Pat Scott, who runs Burnham’s Ritz Cinema, adds: “John was a very close friend who is  going to be greatly missed – he’s been a fabulous help to me at the cinema over the years, putting in many hours of work on several successful grant applications over the past couple of years, plus helping with accounts and giving invaluable financial advice on setting up our new cinema in Minehead. I liked that he always spoke his mind. He is greatly missed.”

Nick Hebborn and Nicky Garland, the current owners of Material Needs in Burnham High Street, also paid tribute to John this week. Nick says: “From the first time Nicky and I met John Edwards in 2016, he was unfailingly honest, knowledgeable and helpful. After he and Katharine retired, John regularly came into the shop, always with a smile on his face and ready to offer sound advice in his own meticulous style. We will miss him.”

Katharine has thanked well wishers for their kind comments and sympathy, and added her “heartfelt thanks” to all the staff at Weston General Hospital for their “wonderful level of care and support.”

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