John Burry: ‘Inspirational’ Hoburne Group chairman and Official Verderer

Hoburne Holidays
John Burry with his daughter Rosie

THE former chairman of the Hoburne holiday and development company, John Burry, has died after a long and inspirational life.


He was born on 7th February 1931, the first child of Alec and Phyllis Burry, then living at Staggs Farm, Beckley. His sister, Judy, was born four years later and was his only sibling.

In his early years, John was a pupil at Speedwell School in Manor Road, New Milton, before he was sent away to cousins near Totnes as an evacuee, an experience he thoroughly enjoyed as it gave him an entire year off school!

After that he became a boarder at King’s School, Bruton, an experience he did not enjoy quite as much.

On leaving school, John became articled to Jackson Stops and Staff, where he began to work towards qualifying as a chartered surveyor.

He married Maureen in 1953 and they moved to Yeovil for work, where their first daughter, Annie, was born on his 24th birthday.

The family returned to Hampshire within six months, where John continued to progress his career at night school, along with practical work with Jackson Stops. His first auction was to sell the aptly named Wobbly Cottage at Sway.

John Burry served as Official Verderer

Second daughter Rosie was born in 1956, followed by Jill in 1959, but sadly the marriage to Maureen was dissolved in 1963.

John and his father, Alec, had begun to grow the small family business together and were taking the holiday parks set up by John’s grandfather at Hoburne and Naish Farms to new levels.

Together they bought Bashley in 1959, and it was John who persuaded his father to stretch the previously agreed budget with one more bid to secure the purchase at £20,500.

The company had offices in Old Milton Road and John claimed to be the only typist and that his desk was an upturned orange box.

Following Alec’s sudden death in 1964, John took over the reins of the business.

In 1965, John married Pam and they settled in to the new house he had designed and built at Hoburne Close. Their daughter Emma was born in 1967 and four years later the family moved to Sway, taking on the dilapidated Hazelhurst, and completely renovating it. It remained his treasured home for the rest of his life.

Tragically, within three years, Pam became ill and she died in 1974 aged just 43. After her death, John once again threw himself into his work.

John married Angela Edgar in 1975 and welcomed Angela’s children, Sally, James and Gillie into the fold. With seven children between them, they often compared themselves to the Von Trapp family from the Sound of Music!

Hazelhurst became the happy hub for the combined families and was the setting for many parties, weddings, and celebrations.

John and Angela shared a sparky sense of humour, as well as a passion for their home and their extended family, for people and their love of the New Forest. They were happily married for nearly 41 years and John was bereft when Angela died in 2016.

John was chairman of the Hoburne Group for 38 years, during which time he not only grew the holiday park business, but he presided over the continuing success of the property and development arm as well.

Golf courses were acquired and hundreds of houses built under the Hoburne Developments brand. Industrial and retail units, along with offices, were also constructed.

The family said: “John’s personality and values are embedded in the Hoburne philosophy and Hoburne’s continued success is testimony to this.

“The business was his passion, and for him it was fun too. He loved a challenge and his vision, his skills and his ability to translate ideas into reality could at times be more than a little creative and unexpected.

John served as Official Verderer of the New Forest from 1993 to 1999 for which he was made an MBE, and in December 1994, he was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Hampshire.

He was involved with the New Forest Show Society for many years, becoming chairman and later enjoying the role of joint-president with Angela.

He founded the New Forest Livestock Society in 2002 and was a tireless campaigner for improvement to the welfare of animals roaming the forest. He also helped found the New Forest Trust in 2003.

Additionally, he was a long-time member of the New Milton Rotary Club, being awarded the Paul Harris Fellowship for his 47 years of service.

He was chairman of the National Caravan Council during the 1970s where he played a key part in the fight to improve standards in services within the industry.

John’s support for numerous organisations, charities and individuals extended beyond practical input where his expertise and wisdom were always highly valued.

Through the Burry Charitable Trust, donations totalling around £1.75m to date have been made to numerous organisations, and these were often given anonymously because John found it embarrassing to be thanked.

In his spare time, John enjoyed shooting, fly-fishing, riding and classic cars. He was a regular challenger for the Rotary snooker cup and played golf at Barton for some years.

The family said: “He was kind, funny, generous, loyal, modest and passionately devoted to the business he built, the family he cherished and to the friends and colleagues who worked with him and for him.

“John was incredibly astute and immensely charismatic – a man whose presence you immediately felt even in a crowded room. His unfailing, old-fashioned courtesy, humour, courage and dignity, even in trying times of ill health, were admired by everyone.”

He died on November 16th and is survived by his extended family of seven children, 10 grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.