I really hope that whoever is reading this has had a fantastic relationship with their Dad because I feel really thankful for my Dad and my relationship with him. Early memories are that he worked really hard and was a big man who looked after us. In comparison my Mum was really little but they were a couple full of fun and went out a lot, dancing and drinking and seemed to have many friends.

Dad was the oldest of four children. He was really sporty, playing table tennis in his youth as well as football and rugby. He actually was little when he was young and was called Tinkle Mansell…crazy because as he grew older he grew larger and in later life was known as Big John! When we moved to Podsmead Road I remember Dad playing cricket on Tuffley Avenue and we went up with him for the whole day and evening. We had great fun playing all day, getting in and out of the big grundons!! Flip Mum would have had a fit!! Then we danced to the bands in the club afterwards and we walked down the road home when it was dark!!

I was also lucky to go fishing with him. Dad loved fishing on the canal and on lakes in fact in his later days he fell in a couple of times… the way he described it was quite comical. He was a member of a disabled fishing group who fished on a lake and when he fell in they all had to fish him out!! And he was quite big!! I used to love feeling the maggots crawling through my fingers but I didn’t like catching a fish and having to take the hook out of the mouth of the fish!!

He was a massive supporter of me playing the flute, the saxophone and then the piano. I started playing the flute when I was 9 and then when I decided to play the sax he bought me a dusty old sax and got it repaired. When I played with the Gloucestershire Concert Band there was a solo piece I did with band called Nightfall. We did it live at The Colston Hall (not called that anymore!) and it went out live on BBC Radio Bristol. Dad was sat in the front row and I could see the tears of pride running down his face! He also came along to the gigs that I did when playing with Ian. We were known as Clique and played 6 nights a week, mainly in Bristol and Dad came along and propped up the Bar! I couldn’t play a note wrong in his eyes! When i decided to apply for music college he got me an old piano, and with how mates bot it up the stairs to my bedroom for me to practise every night!

In the end his size reduced as his Parkinson’s and dementia kicked in. When he was at home he would fall quite regularly and Mum couldn’t pick him up so they got to know the paramedics quite well! I wont forget the day he died…we were on shifts and I came in to start mine at midnight. He had sepsis in the end and I sat holding his hand all night as snow started to fall outside.

He was an amazing man…generous, fun, loving and dependable. Big John. ❤️

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