Campaign to honour lifesaving Preston hero

John White
John White
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He served his country, took care of Preston’s elderly and even talked people down from jumping to their death.

John White, described by those who knew him as an “absolute star”, died at the end of last month, soon after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Now his friends want help to raise cash to give the veteran and local hero the send-off he deserves.

John, who was 61, was in the Royal Green Jackets and then the Ulster Defence Regiment as part of his 17 years of continuous service, before becoming a security guard at Preston Market.

“I can’t describe how good he was, he would go the extra mile for anybody”, said close friend and fellow security guard Jasper Burke.

“The number of first aid incidents we have had in here, he has dealt with each and every one of them before the paramedics came, and he knew all the paramedics names.

“For a gentleman who was scared stiff of heights, he had been up on the Market car park twice and saved people’s lives by talking them down.”

John, who lived in Chorley, was given a commendation from the police for his efforts.

Jasper said: “He put other people before himself, and he always did that. There’s going to be a book of condolence here by Tuesday, and I can guarantee by Wednesday night that will be filled.”

John was a trusted first aider in the centre of Preston, and was also able to help catch people stealing from shops.

Jasper said: “There was a shoplifter from a very well-known shop in town who had stolen a jacket and it came over the radio.

He got in front of John, so John jumped on the bus, got off the bus at the stop in front of him and caught him.

“He knew the city centre like the back of his hand.

“He was just an absolute star and nobody could say anything bad about him.

“There’s nobody else who will ever be able to follow the act.

“And there’s not one trader on the market that’s not devastated by his passing.”

Jasper is among a group of people who have come together to raise money to pay for John’s funeral, and arrange for a permanent memorial for him in Preston.

He said: “We just want some recognition for him.”

His partner of two years, Karen Dixon, described John as a “fun loving guy”.

She said: “A lot of people didn’t know his funny side because of his security work.”

Karen, 50, said John went to the doctors in early November, and was later sent to hospital and was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

She said: “We were told it was terminal, there was nothing they could do.

“I loved him to bits and I really miss him.

“Now we are raising money for his funeral so we can send him off properly.

“We want to send him off how he deserved to be sent off. He was a soldier for a long time.”

It is hoped his funeral at Preston Crematorium will be attended by veterans and hundreds of mourners, after John left very few close family members.

The funeral cortege is planned to travel trough the market in Preston so friends and colleagues can pay their respects.

Karen said: “We are sending him off in style, we’ve got a union jack for on his coffin and his beret.

“We are begging, borrowing and stealing if we have to so he can be sent off like a soldier.”

Anyone who wishes to contribute towards John’s funeral can visit, which was set up by fellow security guard Steven Fludder.

Town Centre councillor and armed forces champion Drew Gale is also helping with plans, along with members of the police.

Coun Gale said: “It is like the community coming together to try to give him the send off he deserves.

“Because of his service to his country and his service to the community, we think it’s the very least we can do.

“And we thought it would be nice to have a tribute, like a plaque at the market.”