‘He’s irreplaceable’

Irreplaceable ... John Blackburn
Irreplaceable ... John Blackburn

A MOVING tribute has been paid to a larger-than-life groundworker who fell to his death from a bridge over the St Helens Linkway.

John Blackburn, 32, suffered fatal head injuries after falling from the landmark Sherdley Bridge while out walking his beloved American bulldog, Winston, on the evening of May 6.

John’s heartbroken partner, Kevin Foster, described John, an ex-Haydock High pupil, as “a perfectionist in everything he did” and “one in a million”.

He said: “I will miss every single thing about John – he’s irreplaceable. You hear about this sort of thing happening to other people but never imagine it will happen to someone you love.

“On the night it happened John just took Winston out as normal and I had a shower and watched a bit of TV before falling asleep on the couch. The next thing I knew I was woken up by the police and told the news.

“I would never in a million years have expected this to happen to John. That’s why everybody is so shocked – he had everything going for him.

“John was full of charisma, charm and happiness. He was the life and soul of every party – he was always the first on the dancefloor – and his smile lit up the room. I’ve never met anyone with such a big a heart. John was so thoughtful and kind. He would go out of his way to help anybody.”

Kevin, a chef, also recalled how, on one holiday in America, he and John burst out laughing in disbelief after seeing a Pilks lorry driving out of Florida Keys!

The couple, from Nutgrove, who had been together for five years, had been planning a civil partnership ceremony in the US this summer.

Kevin added: “John loved working with his uncle, worshipped his nephew, Kai, and idolised the dog. The first time I took Winston back to the bridge he wouldn’t come off it because he was searching for a way down. He just sat there gazing through the railings looking for John.

“The amount of people that are grieving for John is unbelievable. Everyone who knew him has a funny story about him. He didn’t have a bad word for anyone – he was golden. It’s going to take everyone a long, long time to come to terms with this.

“I’m just proud to have been a part of John’s life – he was like my shadow – and will cherish our years together forever. Nobody can take those memories away.”

John Blackburn’s funeral is set to take place at St Thomas CE Church, Westfield Street, at noon tomorrow (Thursday, May 19).

His family and friends ask for any flowers to be sent to 17 Salhouse Gardens, Nutgrove, St Helens, WA9 5UX.