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Distinguished artist John Ward dies aged 89

JOHN WARD: probably best known for giving the Prince of Wales his first professional painting lessons
JOHN WARD: probably best known for giving the Prince of Wales his first professional painting lessons

JOHN WARD, one of the most eminent and acclaimed artists of his generation and a devoted "Man of Kent", has died at the age of 89.

A genial, modest and immensely talented artist, whose range of close friends included the Prince of Wales, died at his home in Bilting, where he retained the common touch on a local level that made him so popular.

He died on June 14, just four months before he was planning to open two exhibitions of his work in Canterbury to coincide with his 90th birthday.

A funeral service will be held at Challock Church on Wednesday, June 27, at 11.30am.

This distinguished artist was probably best known for the role he played in giving the Prince of Wales his first professional lessons in painting.

John Stanton Ward was born on October 10, 1917. in Hereford.

Mr Ward abandoned his artist's smock for the uniform of the Royal Engineers when war broke out and took part in the D-Day landings.

Much of his seven years of service life was spent in helping to design and build the concrete pillboxes that still adorn the coastline between Herne Bay and Whitstable.

His wartime experience of the Kent countryside, together with the presence of his sister Sybil, a nurse at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital, persuaded Mr Ward to settle in East Kent.

He lived near Folkestone for a time, then moved to his farmhouse at Bilting.

Mr Ward's interest in local affairs continued to flourish. The regular train user from Ashford-Charing Cross never lost interest in the local community functions.

He held regular exhibitions of his work both nationally and locally.

The two exhibitions he planned for Canterbury's Beaney Institute and the Sidney Cooper Gallery for his 90th birthday will still go ahead as a tribute and a fitting memorial to one of Kent's favourite sons.

* See the Kentish Gazette (Thursday, June 21) for a full obituary.

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