Walker was ‘swept to heaven’

Tragic Death: John Allen, who died in the Lake District, with his wife Di
Tragic Death: John Allen, who died in the Lake District, with his wife Di
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The widow of a keen walker whose body was found in a Lake District river today paid tribute to her husband, saying he had been “swept up into heaven.”

John Allen, 76, is believed to have been trying to help his dog out of the water in the River Esk estuary at Ravenglass when he went missing a month ago. An inquest has been opened and his funeral is tomorrow morning, 10.30am, at Fulwood Free Methodist Church in Preston.

Today, his wife of 52 years, Diana – known as Di – said: “The place in the river where John’s body was found a fortnight ago is a beautiful spot between mountains in the distance – including Scafell which the family had climbed two days earlier – and picturesque Muncaster Castle with azaleas in full bloom, the sort of place where you might pitch a tent and even the weather was perfect. Jasmine, our eight-year-old granddaughter, said she believed that God had swept Grandad up into heaven and that is really how we all feel as a family.”

Former chemical engineer John, who spent 43 years at British Nuclear Fuels Ltd, Springfields, had been staying in Eskdale with Di, their three children, Stephen, Bryan and Heather and their families.

“It was not easy to get us all together and we had had a wonderful time, a perfect weekend,” Di said. “It is a nice way to remember him.”

John was heavily involved in church life and well-known in the city, attending All Saints Church where he and Di were youth leaders before moving to Fulwood Free Methodist Church in 1986.

There he was church secretary for 20 years, secretary for the Free Methodist denomination nationally and at the time of his death, head steward. He also founded the church’s walking group, Lightfoot Ramblers.

Di said: “For me, John was a rock. I am more spontaneous – he was always the solid one, and we were a real partnership. People don’t always think much about death until they are confronted with it. For us it has certainly registered now. But as Christians we have this sure hope of living with Christ for eternity and that is a great comfort, though it doesn’t mean you don’t miss people.

“Everybody has shown us incredible love – I have had over 200 cards and the things people have written about John have been amazing.”

Di said the family was deeply grateful to all the people who had “worked so unstintingly” to find John’s body, eventually discovered by a passer-by.

The Rev Andrew Gardner, pastor of Fulwood Free Methodist Church, described John as “the most polite, calm, consistent, and faithful Christian anyone could wish to meet”.

He added: “He is greatly missed by his family, the whole congregation, and doubtless many people in the city.”