John Smith is a retired statistician who specialized in marketing research. His interest in Origami started in 1936 with Winter Night's Entertainment by R.M. Abraham and the discovery of the Chinese Junk (it is still his favourite fold). He did not realise there was anything more to paper folding until he came home from work one day in 1965 to find the family following Robert Harbin's TV series on Origami. This led to buying Paper Magic, writing to Lillian Oppenheimer and joining the UK portfolio group in 1966. In February 1967 he visited Lillian Oppenheimer in New York and met Alice Gray and other folders.
As a result of his visit he became convinced of the need to diagram models to make them available to other folders. He proposed the setting up of a society in 1967 and this led to the founding of the British Origami Society that year. John Smith served as a council member for 28 years and was chairman for 20 years. He was elected a Vice President in 1996, and awarded the Sidney French medal in 1997. and served as President from 2003 to 2005