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The Loss Of A True Legend & Friend – John Wilson

A great memorial held for the fishing legend John Wilson.

On Friday the 24th May, I along with around 400 hundred other anglers, friends and family all packed in to Norwich Cathedral to attend John Wilsons memorial service.  It was a great gathering bringing some of us together who had literally not seen each other for many years.

During the service tributes were read out by both Keith Arthur and Martin Bowler about Johns life and career as a hairdresser, shopkeeper, angler and TV presenter. This was followed by a very emotional address by his daughter Lisa who explained how at just 8 years old she could not understand why she had to share her dad with the rest of the world as Johns TV career took off.  Lisa also had many stories to tell of fishing with her dad and she always remembered the times when she caught a bigger fish than John himself.

The telling tributes just goes to show what a special man and personal friend John was not to just me but to his family and fellow anglers.

Although we all deeply miss him we are all sure he is already exploring the great pond in the sky, filling the air with “Steady Wilson” and his infectious laughter.

Until we meet again my friend

Regards Peter



The Loss Of A True Legend & Friend – John Wilson

I often think this word is over used and as a result it undermines its effectiveness. However, in the case of the one and only John Wilson you could say that the word was invented for him.

The sad news of John Wilson passing away on the 13th November 2018 due to a stroke and subsequent cardiac arrest is a great loss to the angling world and to me as a personal friend. Reflecting back over the many years from when I was still at school right through to today, I realise I have lots of things to personally thank this man for.

Many anglers will remember John for his fishing, for his laughter and TV programs, for it was John who first introduced fishing onto mainstream TV back in the 80’s. Johns TV exploits were all about the spirit of fishing as they embraced not just catching fish, but everything that goes along with it. His TV programs reached past anglers and broke new ground in engaging non-anglers for the first time. It is this reason I think he is personally responsible for introducing more people to the wonderful sport of fishing throughout the 80’s than any other single person, for that John I thank you.


John Wilson


I personally remember John from much earlier days, as a young lad still at school. I used to look forward to Saturdays where I could go to Norwich and visit, what was in those days, the most amazing place “Johns Tackle Den” on Bridewell Alley. This small shop to a budding angler was just full of everything fishy including tackle, bait, handmade rods by John and interesting characters like John Bailey, Martyn Page, Chris Turnbull, Rodger Miller, Lenny Bunn all talking secretly about fishing, places to go and new top secret methods.

As a young lad I was completely taken in by all of this and must have driven them all crazy with my constant questions. However, for John this was never a problem as he always had time for me. I would spend hours standing in the shop chatting, listening and learning. I was even promoted to tea boy, being constantly given change from the till to nip next door to the café and get the tea and coffees for all Johns fishing friends. I am a strong believer it was all the help and support that John, plus all the other characters, gave me over these influential years that firmly planted the passion I have for fishing that still exists to today. For making me one of your apprentices John, I thank you.

Not many people know that when I was just 18 I was involved in a horrific car crash that involved over 200 stiches to my head and over 200 stitches to my face. This crash completely cut off my eye lid and did serious damage to my left eye. The damage was so bad they only gave me 10% chance of keeping my eye. To a 18 year old this came as a huge shock and I could not imagine life without my sight. However, along with other anglers, the support I got from John who visited me in hospital to talk about fishing and completely take my mind off my injuries was unforgettable. Fortunately, I made a complete recovery and manged to keep my sight and enjoyed many fishing session with the man himself. For taking the time to care John, I also thank you.



As Johns TV series succeeded, they started to make TV programs of fishing abroad. Little did I know at the time what a huge effect this would have on my life for many years to come. John spent hours in the shop talking about places that he had been to and talking about places that could possibly be worth exploring. He introduced me to Mahseer fishing in India, at the famous Galibore Camp on the Cauvery River, a destination that our company came to run for many years. John, I cannot thank you enough for developing the passion in me for travel that has led me to owning and running one of the most successful travel companies in the UK.

The last time I saw and spoke to John was in our offices about 5 months ago and he was explaining how he was planning to sell up in Thailand and return back to be closer to all the family. We discussed about getting together for old times’ sake on his return, but alas now that opportunity has been stolen from us all.

I could go on and on as there is just so much to thank this man for who touched not only mine but so many other lives. That’s why to me the word legend was invented for the man John Wilson MBE (1943 – 13 November 2018). R.I.P John.

My deepest sympathy to Jo, Lisa, Lee and the rest of the family.

John I am sure our fishing paths will meet again, just remember to save some fish for the rest of us.

Peter Collingsworth


  1. Richard Gynes

    I never actually met John Wilson, but I think I have watched every fishing program he ever made.
    His infectious laugh, the sheer enthusiasm for everything to do with the countryside, not just fishing. I would loved to have met John, perhaps fishing or even over a pint . I think he made some of his statements his own.
    Two that come to mind are his “careful Wilson” or perhaps the one I will always remember “That’s a clonker”.
    I only recently found out about John’s demise. But his infectious laugh and fishing programmes as well as the man himself will live on. I shall miss him . My thoughts are with his family. RIP John Wilson.

  2. Ian Walsh

    Although I’m still a keen angler and enjoy , as John did, all the different aspects of it, I have been busy with home and professional life in particular over the last 3 years. However, I read an article on the train last week in an angling publication referring to John’s passing and a campaign to have a Blue Plaque marking where John’s tackle shop was in Norwich. This was how I became aware of John’s death, I was completely shocked and in disbelief to be honest, still am. I met John only once , at a tackle show, he chatted with me and immediately you realise he is exactly what you saw…genuine , knowledgeable and passionate about angling. My overriding tribute to this legend of an angler is that through his Go Fishing programme’s he maintained my passion for angling ,that still exists today , at a time when my father had sadly passed away when I was still a young lad and through this I only realise later in life just what a healing and positive impact it had on my wellbeing. For that I’m eternally grateful. The fishing world will miss John Wilson, but he’ll never be forgotten.

  3. wayne cooke

    Peter, what wonderful memories of John you have. I was fortunate enough to meet him at a show some years back and addressed him as ‘Mr Wilson’ to which almost in a heart beat responded call me John! no airs or graces just a lovely man to talk to and signed me a copy of his Go Fishing TV location notes.

  4. Leslie Hill

    Peter, your memories of ‘Excitement’ as a child in the tackle shop reminded me of similar happy times.
    I never met John but was captivated by his enthusiasm for the sport I have always loved and no doubt it inspired many youngsters to take up this wonderful pastime.
    John Wilson – What a Gent!

  5. Sarah N John

    Dear Peter

    We are very sad to hear of John Wilson’s Death .

    We had the most amazing time ever we were treated like the family he picked up us Daily and we enjoyed his home so much on this trip our thoughts go to Jo she is lovely as was John . We had dinner twice with them he took us downtown to a great retro restaurant full of old things he had a sneaky wine ? . The fishing and attention was superb we had a book made of all our amazing pictures he took he was very professional and also himself . He said to my John don’t u ever bloody smile thing is we were in awe . I at the time was on crutches he was kind and very thoughtful to me and I used the swimming pool.They have 4 lovely dogs who he adored I could go on but we are so sorry and thank you for linking us originally.

    It was the best holiday ever .

    Bless you Peter
    Xx Sarah N John

    1. Peter Collingsworth Sportquest

      Sarah & John

      Thanks for your kind words, just another example how this man made so many peoples dreams come true. I am sure both you and John will keep those fond memories.

      Regards Peter

  6. Tim Hudson

    Awesome tribute Peter – I think we all felt like we were close to him even though we hadn’t met in person – so wish I had made the trip now so inspirational
    Kind Regards
    Tim Hudson

    1. Peter Collingsworth Sportquest

      Hi Tim as I was trying to point out in my own little way this man touched so many people, it is only at times like this when people are gone do we all realise what effect they have had on us all. Just makes me realise that its time to live for today….

      Thanks Tim

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