tribute to man who died at the races

John Mohan during his daughter's wedding in Florida in 2009
John Mohan during his daughter's wedding in Florida in 2009

TRIBUTES have today been paid to a keen Scarborough sportsman who passed away after suffering a heart attack.

The funeral of 61-year-old John Mohan, who was born and raised in York but moved to Scarborough with his family more than 20 years ago, has been arranged to take place on Tuesday.

His widow Junita said she drew some comfort from the fact that John had died in a place that he loved – during his “annual pilgrimage” to Royal Ascot.

“It was the highlight of his year – it was his annual pilgrimage with the boys to Royal Ascot. They were all united with their love of sport,” she said.

She added that when tragedy struck, on Friday June 17, John could not have received medical attention any sooner than he did. “That’s the strength that’s keeping me going,” she said. “Apparently he said ‘I don’t feel very well’ and collapsed. Luckily there were ambulances on the racecourse.”

John attended Nunthorpe Grammar School and, after studying business studies in Middlesbrough, worked for many years for the Inland Revenue.

He had trials for a number of First Division football clubs, including Middlesbrough FC, and at the time he said “I will play for you but I’d never train with you – I don’t want football to as a full-time job”.

As a left handed opening batsman and bowler he played for a number of cricket clubs including Heworth CC, Osbaldwick CC, Cayton CC as well as national and regional civil service teams.

Junita, who was originally from the North East of England, said: “He was very placid but he had strong opinions. His sudden death has left the family in shock but the suddenness gives us comfort that he didn’t suffer.”

The couple met during the late 60s and were married in York in 1980. They settled in Scarborough in 1987.

His sister, Jean Scott, had travelled from her home in York to be with John’s family at this sad time. She said she had fond memories particularly when they were growing up.

She said: “He was a delight, very funny and he was mischievous. There was nothing nasty about him. He was a really sweet little boy. Having two older sisters we thought he was wonderful and that he could do no wrong. He has four nephews and he was a hero to all of them.”

Jean said she had received a text from one of John’s nephews which read: “Please let Junita know how special uncle John was. A man that I not only loved but one that had my total respect. He was a gentleman and one of the only people that I’ve ever known that I’ve never heard a bad word said about.”

Barbara Hopkins, John’s other older sister, said: “Junita and John have been a wonderful example to us in the way that they’ve coped during some difficult times.”

Tributes have been received from friends around the globe with cards of condolence arriving from such places as: Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cyprus and throughout the UK.

John had been a Liverpool FC fan since the age of eight and he also liked the music of Frank Sinatra.

His parents were Edie and Gerard and his mother still lives in York.

As well as Junita he leaves two children – Michael and Meryll.

The funeral is due to take place at Woodlands Crematorium on Tuesday at 12.40pm.

Family flowers only are requested and people are invited to make a donation to the North East Autism Society.

There will be a gathering after the service at Scarborough Cricket Club in North Marine Road.