John's Letter

LCC UHI Jewellery Lecturer Christina Mackenzie shares the story of student John Mitchell.

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John Michell

Lews Castle College UHI Jewellery Lecturer Christina Mackenzie shares the story of student John Mitchell, his joys of crafts and jewellery making and his very special gift to Christina and future Lews Castle College students following his death from cancer earlier this year.

John’s Letter by Christina Mackenzie

John Mitchell was born in Gosport Hampshire in 1943 and spent most of his working life lecturing Civil Engineering at the University of Portsmouth, his main interest being Coastal Engineering. Alongside John’s passion for engineering, he had a love of the crafts and enjoyed and became self-taught at a number of them. He enjoyed photography, in particularly nature photography and was also an accomplished carpenter and carver and made many beautiful pieces for friends and family over the years. Another one of John’s keen interests was Silversmithing and Jewellery. John’s interest in this subject began in the 1970’s when he discovered the Jewellery department at the university he was working at. John’s amazing mind for engineering and detail was able to draw parallels between the subjects and from there on in he was hooked. He enjoyed practicing jewellery making as a hobby, but it wasn’t until retirement that he found the time to pursue it. In 2018 he enrolled on the HNC Jewellery course at Lews Castle College as a part-time student. John’s old-fashioned manners, his warm, kind personality and his brilliance brought a new wealth of interest and energy to the class every time he came in. He learned with verve, and generously shared his knowledge with the class. His creative projects were a beautiful combination of mathematics and design, cleverly thought out and all executed with the detail of a perfectly engineered piece. John had time for everyone, and everyone had time for John.

Tragically, at the beginning of the year, John was diagnosed with an aggressive terminal cancer and sadly passed away not long after his diagnosis. The news came as a terrible shock to us all.

A short time after, I received a phone call from John’s daughters Sarah McIver and Jo Mitchell. Before John had passed away, he had expressed a wish that his collection of Jewellery books and tools be gifted to me in order that they be put to good use. We all knew exactly what John had meant by good use, and it was decided almost immediately that John’s collection of books would be given to the Lews Castle College Library and his tools would be put to use in the Jewellery department. The benevolence of John and his family has made a valuable contribution to our college. Their wonderfully generous gift encapsulates the very essence of John and his passion to teach and share knowledge. Already, students are learning with and making good use of John’s books and tools and we hope that many more students will in the coming years.  Thank you Sarah and Jo, and thank you John, for this truly thoughtful donation.