04/07/23 | Obituaries
Paul Arthur Johnston – 8th November 1947 to 24th June 2023 – Age 75
Obituary compiled by Peter Cornelia and John Cartwright, with additional contributions from Graham Hilton and John Fairs
It is with great sadness that we report the death of Paul Johnston (PAJ), who passed away on Saturday 24th June 2023, aged; 75. Paul was a former President of the Club from 1987 to 1992 and served twice as Chairman; 1983 to 1985 and 1991 to 1992. He was a universally popular and respected member of our club. We wish to convey our sincere condolences to his nephew Stephen Davenport niece Karen Whittaker and their families. His presence will be greatly missed by us all.
PAJ was from a farming family and brought up at Middlemoss farm in Agden. He attended Pepper St Primary school before moving on to Lymm Grammar school. His father died when he was 14 and being an only child, he left school at 16 to help his mother run the farm. Having played rugby at school, he joined the Lymm Rugby Club playing for the Colts during the 64/65 season and was a lively wing forward. He became Colts’ Captain for the 65/66 season. The Colts had a better playing record than the 1st XV and in addition, embarrassed the Club Captain further with the Colts out drinking the Snr XV in the Club bar on a regular basis.
PAJ went on the Club’s first ever tour to the Isle of Man (IoM), in Easter 1965, together with Colts’ teammates, John Fairs and Chopper Monks, they were 17/18 years of age. This was a senior tour and two photos from John Fairs collection are shown below. They took two sets of strip. 001 photo is with the original Club White shirts and 002 with the new Green, Black and White shirts that the club were switching too.
Club tour to the IoM, Easter 1965
LtoR Back Row: Vic Selby, Roger Meredith, Chris Monks, Ian Haigh, John Fairs, ?, ?, Paul Johnston, George Rigby
LtoR Front Row: Derek Collinson, Peter Whittaker, Mike Johnson, Nev Morrall, Dave Baldry, Dave Meadowcroft
PAJ did not come to Lymm alone. Whenever you say PAJ, the name Bren immediately comes to mind. PAJ and Brenda met at school and she joined him at the club each Saturday, especially when the Club discos started in 1967. They married in September 1969 at St Mary’s Church Lymm, with Chris and Carole Burgess, friends from their school days, as Best Man and Maid of Honour, team mate, Roy Nicholson was Usher. They then had a break from the Club for a few years whilst they settled into married life and their jobs, Paul with ICI and Brenda with Barclays Bank.
Club tour to the IoM, Easter 1965
LtoR Back Row: Peter Whittaker, ?, Chris Monks, Ged Hughes, John Fairs, ?, Dennis Burke, Paul Johnston, Roger Meredith
LtoR Front Row: George Rigby, Vic Selby, Nev Morrall, Dave Baldry, Ian Haigh. Dave Meadowcroft.
In the early 70’s PAJ was back on the rugby pitch and played for various senior teams over the next ten years or so. In the 1979/80 season at 30 years of age, he was awarded Best Forward of the season trophy at the Annual Club Dinner.
Both PAJ and Bren were well established at “Middlemoss” Farm in High Legh, better known as ‘Folly Foot’, to all those who enjoyed the many parties held there. The 1980’s was a tough decade for the club financially and after hanging up his boots, PAJ together with Bren became more involved with the running of the club. With her bank experience, Bren was the perfect person to support our club treasurers and handle our week-to-week financial commitments and banking. PAJ did his first stint as Chairman from 1983-85.
Slowly, the social life at the club was starting to improve. PAJ and Bren enjoyed all social events, especially the many Fancy Dress events throughout the year. Post club parties at Folly Foot were particularly memorable and regular summer BBQ’s, they both enjoyed hosting their friends. Bren told a story following one late night party when she was up tidying around and shouted up the stairs to PAJ, who was still comatosed from the night before.
‘PAJ, the rabbits are back in the front garden eating the flowers I planted yesterday.’
PAJ had no liking for rabbits and shouted back down ‘OK pet I’ll sort it’. He went and got his shot gun and leaning out of the window, let go with both barrels. The rabbits escaped unharmed, but he had managed to blast out of the ground, all the new bedding plants that Bren had planted the previous day!!
Into the 90s and PAJ took up golf, joining High Legh Park Golf Club. He enjoyed many years there with his retired friends from the club, many who sadly are no longer with us. Then in 1996, The “Leafy Lymm Pirates” were formed. Together with friends from the Club and the village he enjoyed a one week sailing holiday each year in the Aegean and Mediterranean. It started with one yacht with a crew of 6 but became so popular it finished up after 11 years with 4 yachts and 20 sailors.
The 90’s also saw the Club’s financial situation start to move in the right direction. This was greatly influenced by Simon Plumb producing the annual Christmas Panto, which is still going strong today and who was to be one of the early Stars? Yes PAJ. He featured in several pantos in various guises, memorably as Grumpy, one of the 7 dwarfs, and of course Bren featured as Front of House controller of the ticket desk during the pantos.
Following retirement, as well as using the Club, PAJ enjoyed a pint down in the village with the boys with Bren’s full support as ever. She would drop him off and pick him up. Health problems however were starting to manifest themselves over the last 15 years and a devastating blow was throat cancer, which resulted in the loss of his ability to speak and for a while swallow food and drink. But PAJ was determined to live as normal life as possible. Whilst he was taking fluid food supplements and drinks to his stomach via a syringe pump, he also included a beer or two. The humour was always there of course, as is the norm amongst chums at the club and in the pub. When asked once would he like another drink, out came his Etcha Sketch writing pad and he wrote, ‘it’s OK, I’ve got one in the pump’.
His old schoolmate and Colt, John Fairs, commented that on one of his visits to a Player’s Reunion at the club, PAJ wrote down a message on his etch pad and passed it to John. John read it and etched a response for PAJ and handed it back. PAJ read it and returned it with the message – I’M NOT F*****G DEAF.
PAJ and Bren were inseparable, with Bren doing whatever she could to enable PAJ to enjoy as normal a life as possible. Then PAJ’s world changed dramatically and shocked us all, when Bren died during the Pandemic in 2020.
Notwithstanding this dreadful loss for PAJ and all of us who knew Bren, PAJ continued to live as full a life as he possibly could and was looked after by his many friends and by Stephen and Karen. For everyone who knew him, PAJ was often referred to as the “cat with nine lives”. He battled through many difficult medical situations with the utmost dignity and always with a smile on his face.
Rest in Peace PAJ, our lives are better for having known you!
Funeral arrangements will be posted shortly.