Tributes to 'kind and caring' Norwich man with a love of chess and walking

Johnathan Wells, playing chess on an outdoor patio set in 2020. 

Jonathan Wells, playing chess on an outdoor patio set in 2020.  - Credit: Supplied by the family

He had a love of walking in nature, revelled in his job and had a passion for chess. And when it came to kindness, Jonathan Wells was king of the board.

Now tributes have been paid to the man from south Norwich, who has died at the age of 60 after a short illness.


Jonathan Wells, left, with brother and sistersSusan Schneider, Charlotte Wicks, Tim Wells and father Bernard Wells.   

Jonathan Wells, left, with brother and sisters Susan Schneider, Charlotte Wicks, Tim Wells and father Bernard Wells. - Credit: Supplied by the family

Jonathan was born to parents Bernard and Barbara, the eldest of four children - the others are Timothy Wells, Charlotte Wicks and Susan Schneider.

He attended Tuckswood First School, then South Harford Middle School and the City of Norwich School at Eaton, where he developed a love of chess thanks to inspirational teachers such as Colin Goodchild and Paul Blake.

As a child he enjoyed different board games including Monopoly, but it was chess that eventually consumed his attention and he spent many hours honing his skills and taking part in junior tournaments.

Jonathan Wells shows his football colours as a boy.

Jonathan Wells shows his football colours as a boy. - Credit: Supplied by the family

He became the Norfolk Individual Chess Champion in 1985, and, although he played mainly for enjoyment over the following decades, he remained one of the strongest players in the county. He even played and drew against Grandmasters Keith Arkell and Danny Gormally in recent years.

Jonathan won the Norwich Dons Chess Club Championship in its 2018/19 season - Norfolk’s most competitive tournament outside the county championship.

A young Jonathan Wells in his South Harford Middle School uniform. 

A young Jonathan Wells in his South Harford Middle School uniform. - Credit: Supplied by the family

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Although he lived in the same south Norwich house he grew up in for the rest of his life, he had a passion for north Norfolk because his family used to spend summers in Cromer.

He played chess at the Morley Club in Sheringham for many years, and he was also a regular at the Bath House hotel on Cromer’s seafront in the 1980s and 1990s.

Susan said: "He loved long walks along the beach, he used to go right around to Mundesley or Happisburgh and back.”

Johnathan Wells, playing chess on an outdoor patio set in 2020. 

- Credit: Supplied by the family

Jonathan travelled all over the country to play chess and he often chose tournaments in coastal spots such as Exmouth so he could wind down with long walks along the beach back to his hotel. 

He also often detoured to a local Wetherspoons pub, and he liked to visit as many as he could for a meal or a pint.

Susan said: “He would regularly walk 20,000 or 30,000 steps on a working day, and on some of his holidays he would get to 50,000 or 60,000 steps.”

Jonathan Wells with mum Barbara Wells.

Jonathan Wells with mum Barbara Wells. - Credit: Supplied by the family

After finishing his education at the City of Norwich School, Jonathan took a job as a service charge analyst for Norwich Union in 1979. He continued working in the field for the next 40 years, transferring over to the real estate services company, JLL, in 2001.

He enjoyed his work and, according to a former JLL manager, Jonathan found the hardest part of his job only working five days a week.

Colleagues said: “He was the kindest of souls, with always a smile on his face, and he had an unforgettable laugh.

“Nothing was too much trouble for him, he was always willing to help anyone. If he spoke to you, he would always remember your name and never say a bad word about anyone or anything.”

His colleagues were well aware of his love of chess, and on a business outing to London he played and beat them all, one by one, while eating his lunch.

He also became a carer, spending many hours helping his parents, aunt and uncle when they needed it due to illness or old age.  

Charlotte said: “He was doing all his while holding down a full-time job as well, which is pretty amazing.
“He had a very patient and kind side to him.”

Jonathan’s funeral will take place at Ipswich Road United Reformed Church on Monday, December 13 at 11am.

Family flowers only, but donations can be made in his name to the Priscilla Bacon Hospice online at www.allcockfunerals.co.uk.