(The only reason I’m able to do this today is because John isn’t here to heckle me.)

John was born on the 26th May 1964.

The most placid of babies, he loved everyone, ate anything and slept well afterwards. His favourite sleep suit was yellow with a rabbit and teddy peeping out of the pocket. A perfect second baby after his hyperactive older sister, Olive.

He went to ‘Our Lady of the Rosary’ primary school and was very popular. Years later, Robin turned up to his first day at the same school to discover that John had arranged for him to fight the Marsh twins’ younger brother much to Robin’s surprise.

(By the way Robin insisted that I point out that he won, because while he did get a black eye, the other boy got a black eye and a bloody nose.)

An equally loving older brother, when Sarah, his youngest sister, was brought home from hospital screaming with hunger, John offered her his thumb to suck, setting up a lifetime addiction.

He had originally planned to be a fireman like his Dad, but quickly realized that he preferred setting things on fire to putting them out. But he obviously knew the dangers as he once wrote a letter to himself warning that if he didn't stop setting things on fire he would burn his own possessions!

His room was decorated with Thunderbirds wallpaper but he was so scared of The Hood that he went around his bed scratching out his hypnotic eyes. (It’s funny but I don’t seem to remember him mentioning that to me…)

He went St Columba’s secondary school in Welling. This is mostly notable for a school trip to France, when he brought home a French book for Sarah and French loaf for Sadie, unwrapped and somewhat grubby once it arrived home via the ferry!

He left school at 16, and went to Woolwich Odeon as a trainee projectionist.

This was great for the brothers and sisters as he used to sneak them in the back door.

He eventually moved to Bromley Odeon as a full projectionist, which was great for the brothers and sisters as he used to sneak them in the back door.

And it was here that we met, and I introduced him to Robert, then Steve, my sister Mandy, Dave and Wendy, and where, together we cultivated and shared our lifelong passion for films and music. Sam came on the scene soon after, ready to cook massive Mexican meals while we bummed around watching movies and talking shite. She was clearly mad.

John soon went from movie projectionist to movie maker as he embarked on a happy and fulfilling career as a film and television editor working with Miranda at Dateline Films.

There are volumes of stories from this golden age to be recounted. I hope you’ll join us informally later to do just that.

I’ll leave Sammy and Robert to say a few words of their own in a moment.

In recent years John changed career completely and took his talents in a new direction as a Community Projects Manager. I would imagine that the person filling his shoes will have a lot to live up to.

He was loved instantly by virtually everyone he met and I’ll give you a quick example. Years ago John and I went on a now legendary (to us anyway) trip to the States. We had a train pass that gave us unlimited travel in the NE for 10 days. We travelled mainly at night (to save hotels bills). We drank beer for tea to help us sleep and ate Amtrak coffee brownies for breakfast to wake us up – a perfectly healthy 20-something male diet. We travelled up to Niagara for a couple of days which, apart from the falls, was a total dump. We were walking back to our hotel (ie, the station) late one night when we were attacked by a bunch of thugs. Of course I went straight down (being a total wimp). They ran off before they’d done any real damage and I stood up and looked around for John. I heard some noise coming from behind a wall. I went over and found him on a small grassy area on his hands and knees together with one of our attackers, having a pleasant chat while they looked for his glasses. They found them, shook hands and said goodbye. Only John could turn a mugging into a merry meeting.

It’s a testament to his popularity that people have travelled many miles from around the country and from Ireland and Scotland to be here today. A much loved son, husband, brother, cousin, nephew and of course friend, no get-together will ever be the same. His unique wit meant he was the life and soul of every gathering and he was always happy to take the stage and sing at weddings, his enthusiasm never dampened by the fact that any comparisons made between him and Pavarotti were not usually to do with his voice.

John and those around him have been a significant part of my life for nearly 30 years. I’ve always preferred a small, solid circle of friends to a battery of acquaintances and John was a founder member, and indispensable part of that small band of brothers and sisters that still exists, though we all live our own separate lives now. I’ve been based in Ireland for more than 17 years and still, in all that time, nobody else has come close. Modest, unpretentious, and a far more private person than he appeared to be, he was also brilliant, passionate, ebullient and a comic genius – being responsible for most of the laughs in my life. I’ve a head like a sieve and have always relied on my friends to remember all the good stories and adventures. Together with all of you, I now find myself, prematurely, one of the keepers of his memory.

I watch Oisin and Ryan playing together and hope that they share some of the joy from each other that I got from John.

There’s a line in ‘The Maltese Falcon’ when Sidney Greenstreet says to Humphrey Bogart: “My dear sir you really are a character – there’s never any telling what you’ll do or say next, but it’s bound to be something extraordinary”.


That was John.

My friend John.