Tributes paid to beer festival founder

Simon Taylor and John Taylor
Simon Taylor and John Taylor
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TRIBUTES have been paid to the organiser of one of the borough’s most popular beer festivals who has died.

Bent and Bongs Beer Bash founder member John Taylor, 67, lost a brave battle against an unusual form of Leukaemia and pneumonia only weeks after attending the event in a wheelchair.

Poignantly this year’s festival was a dedicated fund-raiser to his son, Simon, 34, who died suddenly himself from an aneurism brought on by the ultra rare Marfan’s syndrome in January 2011.

And just two days before John’s death vandals completely burned down the family neon sign business he had run in Manchester with his brother Colin for the past 50 years.

Bt today his wife Carol, said that misfortune had not had anything to do with his death.

Carol, who was married to John for 43 years, said that he died proud that the Bent and Bongs had raised such a huge amount for charity while becoming one of the region’s top real ale events, drawing fans from all over the country.

And he was particularly positive that, although previously ill himself at the time, the 2012 festival provided a key financial boost to the charity behind research to find a cure for Marfan’s syndrome.

John, a past president of Atherton and Tyldesley Round Table, had been on the original organising committee when the ground breaking event with the quirky name was first mooted in 1990.

He had been to virtually every one of them while his Simon joined him on becoming a teenager and was also a familiar figure with his 6ft 4inch frame crammed behind the cash desk issuing beer tickets and programmes.

After Simon died from Marfan’s, the whole family were screened on doctor’s orders and that revealed that John had only two of the three working heart valves the rest of us enjoy.

This necessitated complex and successful heart surgery at the specialist Wythenshawe last year.

Accountant Carol said from their home in Greenfield Road, Atherton: “John would always be there for us and for anyone who needed help.

“He joined the Round Table and spent more than 30 years with it to raise money for charity and to do his bit for others less fortunate, which was something he always cared strongly about.

“It was a terrible shock when Simon died. His death hit John hard but he said that he had to be strong for me and for our daughter, Simon’s brother Nykola.

“He was already fighting the leukaemia at this time but it was some time later when he said exactly what he had been taking the pills every day for because he said he didn’t want to worry us, which was him all over.

“He was very ill at the time of this year’s Bent and Bongs but I asked him if he wanted to go along and enjoy a beer and he said he did, so we pushed him in his wheelchair.

“A lot of people came along to say hello, which was really nice and he had a drink of a special beer from a barrel dedicated to Simon’s memory, which was a nice thing to be able to do..

“As it was he died just two days after the family firm he had taken over running, starting straight from school at 16, had been burned down by vandals.

“It was on the way to Manchester United’s ground so there was often problems with people throwing stones on match days, but this time there was absolutely nothing left.

“But having said that I don’t think the fire contributed to John’s death because he was already so very ill at this time.

“Although it has certainly made a terrible year for the family even more awful.”

Brian Gleave of real ale group Wigan Camra said: “John had been involved in the Bent and Bongs beer bash from its inception in 1990.

“John was one of the nicest people you could meet and would do anything for you.

“He had little interest in real ale and drank very little but that did not stop him helping out at many Wigan beer festivals and putting up our banner on a high building near the old Mill at the Pier venue.”