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Blessings of having ‘jester’ Jonny to hand

25 January, 2019 — By John Gulliver

Success, as Jonny Bucknell retrieves the cross

JONNY Bucknell, the one-time Tory councillor seen by his political colleagues as a bit of a “madcap”, surprised me this week when I discovered he is a devout Christian – and worships at St Mark’s Church, Primrose Hill.

I had always thought of him for some reason as a member of the secular world.

Recently, he played a key part in the church’s annual Epiphany ceremony of “blessing of the water” when he steered his powered miniature “jet-ski” to retrieve a wooden cross that had been cast into the nearby Regent’s Canal by the minister Mr William Gulliford.

“It was a marvellous event,” he told me. “I had made the cross out of a piece of mahogany with a couple of screws and after it had been dropped into the canal I nudged it back to the bank with my ‘ski’. The church want to use it again next year.”

Bucknell, who owns several properties but unlike most landlords is a skilled craftsman with a love of bricks and timber, takes after his father Barry who was a top TV personality in the 1960s with a weekly DIY show.

Onlookers at the ‘blessing of the water’ ritual

Talking to him over the phone he broke off occasionally while he confirmed facts with his wife about his other passion – sailing.

He has a catamaran and has often sailed across the Channel with his family.

I have always felt that behind the “jester” mask there may a lie a multi-layered man with principles and convictions that probably puzzled – and annoyed – his more orthodox colleagues. Beliefs, not founded on dogma nor on the fashionable sway of opinion at any one time, but on a conviction that germinates through a lot of soul searching.

He told me that he began his political journey in the Labour Party and had been asked to become a candidate for a Chalk Farm council seat in the late 1970s. Then he had a change of heart, again after much soul-searching, and had joined the Tories.

But he never fitted into the high-collared. strait-jacketed political life as a Tory councillor and after 16 years at the Town Hall he had upset so many colleagues he was seen as a “lost cause”.

If only there were more “lost causes” like him.


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