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
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.
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.