High honour for fund-raiser who always wore a smile
A BUSINESSMAN who helped to raise tens of thousands of pounds for charity was awarded the Rotary movement's highest honour days before his death.
John Richardson, who ran Avenger Taxis in Ilkeston, had been a member of Ilkeston Rotary Club for 13 years and was president in 2006-7. He was also a freemason.
Current Ilkeston Rotary Club president Mike Perry visited Mr Richardson at his home in Derby Road, Ilkeston, to present the Paul Harris Fellow award in recognition of his contribution to the club's community work.
Mr Perry said: "For over 10 years, John was the most important member of Rotary Christmas festivities when Santa and his helpers visited schools, community centres and Ilkeston Community Hospital.
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"John visited all the patients in the hospital every Christmas morning, when his jollity, humour and great sense of occasion brought many a laugh and a few tears to the eyes of patients, staff and visitors alike.
"I have witnessed him handing presents to children there who were receiving treatment in the minor injuries unit, causing the children to return his 'ho-ho-ho' with broad, beaming smiles.
"At public events such as the hospital garden party, Rotary Midsummer Happening or Ilkeston fair, his presence at the front of the Rotary barbecue was legendary and he could be heard clearly above the hubbub extolling the virtues of Rotary hot-dogs as opposed to others.
"John took a keen interest in our fund-raising activities and helped to raise many thousands of pounds."
Mr Richardson, 65, died at home after an 11-month battle against cancer. Among messages of condolence received by wife Dolores was one from Erewash Borough Council, on behalf of past mayors.
It reads: "He always had a smile on his face and would go out of his way to help anyone – a typical Ilkestonian."
Ilkeston-born Mr Richardson attended Kensington and Gladstone Boys' schools in the town and worked at Shipley and Babbington collieries before setting up his taxi firm in the late 1970s.
He was a divorcee and Dolores was a widow when they met at the Festival Inn, Trowell, in 1979. They married at Gretna Green in 1984.
Also bereaved are Dolores's children, Samantha and Scott, their children and grandchildren, Jodie, Leah, Zane, Phoebe, Mia, Maisy and Braelyn; Mr Richardson's children, Andrew and Jane; and his brothers, Fred and Ken.
Mr Richardson enjoyed socialising and had a passion in later life for motorcycling.
"He liked a good laugh," said Dolores. "He loved life and he loved to go out."
In 2001, Mr Richardson received a Mayor of Erewash's award for community service after he helped to save the life of a supermarket manager who had been stabbed by a shoplifter. Mr Richardson was waiting in the queue at Tesco when it happened and he rushed to the wounded man and used the first-aid skills learned at the pit to stem the bleeding.
His funeral will be held at Bramcote Crematorium on Thursday, January 31, at 11am.