Deputy Jan Kuttelwascher
Sadly, recently one of the founders of 2020 and more importantly one of the leading politicians in Guernsey over the last twelve years, Deputy Jan Kuttelwascher died.
Jan was an extraordinary man who lived an extraordinary and full life. He still had much to offer and would have been a candidate in the forthcoming election. We as an organisation are going to miss his wise guidance (and humour) and, even more sadly, so will his family and the population of the Island whom he served so well.
Jan was born in what was then Czechoslovakia in 1946. The dark curtain of Communism was coming down in 1948 and the Communists were moving in. His parents then decided to leave Czechoslovakia and Jan, who was then only two and his sister were sedated and put in the boot of the car whilst the parents made their exit to Germany. Jan and his family spent the next six months in a refugee camp in Germany. The family then moved to London as Jan’s uncle was already there. Jan’s uncle was the most distinguished of Czech pilots in the Second World War.
Jan attended school and in London passed the 11 Plus. He said that was one of the watershed moments of his life. He went to a Catholic boys’ grammar school. He was outstanding as a student. He then took up a place at Queen Mary College in the University of London. He was so bright that he graduated for the Special Honours Degree in Physics. He then engaged in a career for which he was so wonderfully suited. He joined BOAC which later merged with two other State entities to become British Airways. In his pilot training he had his first connection with Guernsey in that he met Jurat Jerry Girard and they both qualified at the same time.
Jan was not just a pilot, he was a distinguished pilot, but he also set up an import/export business and he carried out some property development. Being a former refugee Jan had that restless spirit. He had that enterprise. In 1982 he sold his business and accepted a secondment to Air Mauritius. At that time that country was a tiny speck in the Indian Ocean. He moved his family there. He flew many of the inaugural routes for that airline and also trained local pilots on the then new 707 aircraft.
The family returned to the UK in 1986 and he continued his career with British Airways until he retired in 2000, a career which lasted 33 years. For many of those years he was a CAA Instructor and Examiner. He flew to many destinations a plane known nowadays as the Jumbo Jet.
His flying career and accomplishments can be described as nothing less than distinguished.
He and his wife had visited Guernsey on holiday in 1993 and liked the Island so much that they bought a house and effectively moved to Guernsey in early 1994.
He and his wife took to Island life like a duck to water. After retirement as a pilot he became a member of the St Peter Port Douzaine and was actively involved in Age Concern. Since 2008 he has been a Deputy serving the district of St Peter Port South. He did that with integrity, ability and distinction. He made a vast contribution to the States of Guernsey.
He sat on a number of committees. He was previously the Deputy Minister for the Treasury and Resources Department and this term he was both Vice-President of Economic Development and later a member of the States Trading Supervisory Board. In both of those roles he brought his considerable knowledge, not just relating to the Airport and Aviation, but also to so many other topics.
He was a man of the highest integrity and decency and possessed great humour and charm. He was incisive and tolerant and less than a week before his death at a committee meeting of the 2020 Association he was brimming with ideas and was about to produce some papers on some important topics.
He is going to be remembered much more than just for his sustained and able promotion of the runway extension (which we believe should come to fruition). He had so many ideas, all liberally laced with common sense, all for the benefit of our community.
He will be sadly missed by his wife, children, grandchildren and wider family, but also by our Association and the people of Guernsey.