Newly-weds John and Ann make their dream move to Bulgaria; just days later he was dead.
The family of a former firefighter today told of their devastation after he died just days after fulfilling his dream of moving to Bulgaria.
Great-grandfather John Nightingale, 64, moved to the country with his wife of just six months, Ann. The couple, who lived in Farington, Leyland, had set their sights on moving to the country after enjoying holidays there and, having both retired, bought a house in the village of Marchevo.
But just two days after moving into rented accommodation in Skalitsa, whilst their new house was being renovated, John had a fall whilst walking back from an evening meal.
He banged his head and fell into a coma from which he never awoke.
Today, his devastated widow, Ann, 49, paid tribute to him – and vowed to return to the home they had bought.
She said: “I’ve got to turn this nightmare back into his dream.”
Father-of-three John had been a fireman at Bamber Bridge fire station for 15 years.
He took early retirement when he was in his 40s because of having an enlarged heart.
He later went on to work at Denmans Electrical Wholesalers. His former colleagues joined friends and family at his funeral at Saviour’s Church in Bamber Bridge yesterday.
The couple moved to Bulgaria on December 10, John fell on December 12 and died on December 17.
A service and cremation had been held in December but Ann was able to bring John’s ashes back to Lancashire until January.
John, who also has three step-children, has nine grandchildren and two great granddaughters, was known to his friends as Tonto.
Ann, who worked a home carer, said: “He fell down and hit the front of his head. I rang an ambulance and we went to Yambol Hospital, I was asking all night and they wouldn’t let me in until 7am.
“Another doctor arrived and said he had been taken to another hospital overnight and had a brain operation.
“He was in a coma when the ambulance picked him up and he never woke up.”
In the days between the fall and John’s death members of the family had travelled to Bulgaria to support Ann.
She said: “We had just left the hospital and got up to the house and he had passed away.” The couple, who had been together for 10 years, only married in June.
They first went to Bulgaria six years ago and “fell in love with it,” setting their hearts on moving there. In November they retired and took the plunge to move.
Ann said: “We were only talking about this a few months ago and he said if anything happens to me you have got to promise me you will still go out on a Saturday night and still go to the club.
“He was so helpful and kind. We worked well together. We were a team. He was my soul mate.
“He was 64 but he wasn’t 64 in his years, people who saw us together thought John was my age.”
Ann will spend a few months back home before returning to Bulgaria.
She said: “I thought for ages when out there. My son said I should stay because it is what John would have wanted. My daughter said I have got to come home for a few months.
“I’ve got to turn this nightmare back into his dream. I have got to try. I owe that to him - if it doesn’t work I can come back.” His daughter Sharon, 41, said: “He was bubbly, he was full of life, he really did know everybody. He always helped people. He is going to be missed a lot.”