James was born on Friday 2nd of April 1971; he came into this world with quite a struggle due to having the umbilical cord wrapped around his tiny neck. The doctors were able to help him make his way into St George’s hospital in Gants hill Ilford. He weighed 6lbs 8oz and suffered with jaundice for the first few days of his life. Being born on a Friday James lived up to the old verse for Fridays child. He was as a child and as a young man very loving and giving.
At the age of three, the family moved from Chigwell to North Weald and that is where James started school at the age of four. During his first week at St Andrews he made quite an impression, he was out in the playing field and the teacher was telling the children that they would be learning to swim in the school swimming pool. James took one look at that pool and ran to the fence. He escaped through a small hole and had taken himself home across the field and one major road. The teachers were surprised because no other child had ever escaped from that school before. James did not want to go into that swimming pool; however, he did turn out later in his life to be a very good swimmer.
The family moved to Loughton and James attended the Alderton School where he becomes friends with a boy whose father raced greyhounds. James found out that the boy’s father used live rabbits to bait the greyhounds. He and his young friend Mark saw this black and white rabbit in a cage waiting to be used to train the dogs. They crept in and stole the rabbit and James brought it home, he kept that rabbit safe until it died of old age.
James also had his comical side his aunt was sitting in the garden smoking a cigarette and at the age of eight James did not like smoking. He got a bucket of water and through it over his aunt penny and told her “if god had wanted you to smoke he would have put a chimney on your head”. Later in his life, he laughed about this because he was a smoker himself. It was while the family lived in Loughton that James showed he was quite a sportsman. He loved to play snooker and would often take over the front room and the girl’s bedroom to play anyone he could get to play him. He took great pleasure in beating the adults he played. He joined Loughton boy’s football club and had a great passion for the game. His favorite team were the Arsenal and joined the junior gunners he continued to support Arsenal throughout his life.
As I mentioned earlier James was a good swimmer and he and his sisters would spend most of their summers swimming or fishing in the Roding River. Cheryl his eldest sister remembers the way he ran home to get his mum when she cut her foot open in the river. Clare his younger sister remembers how he left the house in Kent in the 1987 storm to rescue her bike; he placed a large saucepan on his head to protect him from the debris. He always tried to be the big brother to the girls even though he was not the eldest.
He attended school at Buckhurst hill boy’s school and was upset about moving to Chartham Kent fearing that he would lose touch with all his friends. However, as soon as he started school at Stour valley it did not take James long to make some new friends. Although he was not a great scholar James did manage to get some qualifications His favorite subject was rural science and he had hoped to work with his father in landscape gardening, but this did not work out for him. This was one of the many disappointments James had had to cope with, but being optimistic he tried several other forms of employment. On leaving school James first took a job in construction but was not keen on mixing concrete and digging holes. After a few months he started work at the local psychiatric hospital as a cleaner. It was at this time he really showed his caring side and applied to become a nursing assistant, by now he was seventeen. Many people at the hospital commented on how caring and thoughtful he was towards the patients he cared for.
He left Kent to live with his dad in Essex but found that life was not as he would have liked it to be and spent a couple of years moving back and forth between Kent and Essex.
During this time he broke both his arms larking about with his friends in Loughton. He befriended a man called Bill who he treated as his father figure and he would help this man with his garden and housework. He met Christine, the love of his life; they built a home together and had two lovely children Emma and George. As usual James did nothing in order and it was not until after George was born that he and Christine married. James told his family this was one of the happiest days of his life.
After the break up of his marriage James found it very hard to cope and spent many days and nights drinking away his sorrows. During this unhappy time he tried to take his own life and this resulted in his having a bilateral stroke. He lost the use of his arms and was not able to walk. His slow recovery was helped by Christine his ex wife and he managed to recover some of his disabilities, he was able to walk and use his arms but had difficulty using his hands. He had such problems trying to move on without her, but recently James relationship with Christine had improved and he planed to spend time with his children on the week he was murdered. Before his death he told his little sister and his mum that he wonted to travel. He was planning a trip to France and then to his mother in America. He had a very close relationship with his little sister Clare who was always the person he turned to for support. James was loved so much by his family and will be remembered for his loving and caring ways.
James wasn’t long on this earth but I am sure many people were touched by his caring ways and his sense of humor. He had a lot of love to give but, sadly this was not reciprocated in later years. This is most likely the reason why he sought solace in alcohol. His death is our loss, but I am sure he is at peace now. God Bless you James and may you rest in peace. We will never forget you. I feel sure this short poem sums up the feelings of James family and friends.
Don’t think of him as gone away his journeys just began,
Life holds so many mysteries this earth is only one.
Just think of him as resting from the sorrows and the fears,
In a place of warmth and comfort where there are no days or years.
Think how he must be wishing that we could know today
How nothing but our sadness can really pass away.
And think of him as living in the hearts of those he touched
For nothing loved is ever lost and he was loved so much.