Tributes paid to ‘kind’ Horsham dentist

Tributes have been paid to a ‘kind’ Horsham dentist who practised in the town for more than 30 years.

John Cannon was born in July 21 1930 and died on January 3 2021. His family wrote the following tribute.

Horsham is mourning the loss of one of her long standing residents, who passed away peacefully at home last week after a short illness.

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John Cannon was a retired dental surgeon, chess impresario, local historian and collector, Gilbert and Sullivan and Savoy Opera ephemera expert, national archivist, photographer and presenter of charity lecture slide shows.

John Cannon's family paid tribute to a 'kind' Horsham dentist

Following National Service with the Royal Dental Corps in Aldershot, John took over Cyril Taylor’s Horsham dental practice in 1958, relocating it to the Old House in London Road as a single man practice with technician Bob Dominy, until his retirement in 1990.

John believed firmly in the ideals and ethos of the NHS and was never tempted into private dentistry like others in town.

Tributes have been coming in from patients and staff remembering him as a kind gentleman, always interested in people, who loved talking with his ‘captive’ audience.

Many will know John through his enduring love of chess and mission to bring the game to a wider audience. From early days as Cheshire schoolboy chess champion in 1947, and playing on the winning Durham University team in the British Championships in the early 1950s, John was known by many in Sussex over 62 years as first team captain, Secretary and then Chairman of Horsham Chess Club, during which his great drive and passion helped the club expand to achieve considerable success and reputation within the county and beyond.

John Cannon's family paid tribute to a 'kind' Horsham dentist

At his 90th birthday last July, John was appointed Honorary President and still holds the national record for the most county chess games played, at 515 games.

John’s enthusiasm for local history was sparked over many years by a close friendship with historian and photographer Cecil Cramp, with whom he spent many hours scouring local fairs and market stalls for cards and photos of Horsham and contributed articles to a number of books and pamphlets.

His special interest was Horsham’s several theatres and cinemas in the 20th century, particularly the history of the Capitol Theatre in London Road 1923-1983 (which he could see from his surgery window), and this spilled over into another of his great interests in the form of photography.

Over the years, John has taken well over 60,000 slides; of Horsham, of the theatre where he was a keen supporter of the Horsham Gilbert and Sullivan Society in which his wife Brenda sang the major roles, and of immaculately documented foreign travels with Brenda.

In retirement, John became much in demand for his popular lecture slide evenings using two projectors, in aid of local and national charities, and he gave over 250 meticulously researched evenings to local and national organisations, churches, and clubs.

In the 1960s, John developed a huge interest in the ephemera of Gilbert and Sullivan, D’Oyly Carte and the Savoy Opera, collecting widely, curating the national museum, and advising and collaborating widely with collectors in the UK, US and Australia. He presented exhibitions at UK conventions, was vice-president of the Sussex Society, and researched and wrote for the national G&S Magazine, of which he was still co-editor at his 90th birthday (busily preparing the June edition during lockdown last year).

John was also a very keen tennis player.

He was an avid follower of Wimbledon and international tennis, a huge supporter and patron of Horsham Tennis club, and only finally ceased playing in his early 80s.

John will be remembered as a kind and respected gentleman, with a great rapport for people and huge drive and energy for his various interests, and for his phenomenal memory and remarkable organisation and intellect.

He was also a hugely supportive family man; he made a formidable team with Brenda, and was heavily involved with the lives of his children and grandchildren, and with Brenda at his side for over 64 years, has lived his life to the full. He will be sadly missed by all his family and many friends.

Donations to St Catherine’s Hospice can be made in John’s memory at