3:00pm Friday 4th January 2013
By Greg Fountain
As Falmouth and Penryn bid farewell to 2012, here at the Packet we thought we would take a chance to look back at half a century of news with someone who has seen more than 50 years of front pages.
John Garwood first came to Falmouth in 1962 having never been to Cornwall before.
In April of that year he and his friend Bill Burkes arrived fresh from London, via a short stay in Truro, and began trading at Arwenack Newsagents – where John still helps out to this day.
By November that year, aged 27, John was making history with Falmouth Town when they became the first – and still the only – Cornish side to reach the first round of the FA Cup. He carried on playing football until he was 46.
John, now 77, has moved around in his time. For a while he took the lease on a shop in Berkeley Vale, ran a post office in Truro, and even owned a hotel in Tintagel for short spell in the 1970s, but he has always returned to Falmouth and the newsagents on Arwenack Street.
“I have had short spells in other places – I have not always been there – but I have always been associated with it,” he said.
In 50 years of selling the Falmouth Packet John has featured in our pages many times, mostly for his sporting achievements and associations.
But he also remembers the big stories of the last half century – the wrecking of the Scottish Trawler Ben Asdale in 1978 and the Torrey Canyon disaster of 1967, which saw thousands of tons of crude oil leak into the sea off of Cornwall after the Liberian supertanker ran aground.
“When that happened I was up on the golf course and I could see the smoke,” he said. “They bombed it because of all the oil in the tanks. There was this great plume of smoke that must have been 20 miles away out to sea.”
John also spent the evening with Robin Knox-Johnston in 1969, after he became the first man to sail non-stop around the world single-handedly – starting and ending his journey in Falmouth. He even witnessed Sir Francis Chichester sail into port from his home on Greenbank after the great sailor completed a similar feat.
Nowadays John keeps a scrapbook of some of the most memorable events from the town’s history - featuring many well-thumbed Packet pages - and updates it whenever he gets a chance.
He has seen a lot of changes in Falmouth and witnessed a lot of events unfold, but in his own words: “quite honestly I wouldn’t live anywhere else.”
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