'He was unique: once met, never forgotten': Wife pays tribute to mountain biker who died in Lake District (From The Westmorland Gazette)
When news happens, text KENEWS and your photos and videos to 80360. Or contact us by email or phone.
'He was unique: once met, never forgotten': Wife pays tribute to mountain biker who died in Lake District
4:07pm Wednesday 11th September 2013 in News
THE wife of a mountain biker found dead in the Lake District after failing to return home has paid tribute to a 'warm, genuine, inspiring and generous man'.
The body of John Michael Graham was discovered by mountain rescuers on Lonscale Fell early Monday morning.
The 59-year-old Silloth man was reported missing late the night before.
It sparked a multi-agency rescue operation involving Keswick and Patterdale Mountain Rescue teams and search dogs from the Lake District Mountain Rescue Search Dogs.
Wife Mrs Helen Graham spoke of the family's devastation at losing their 'Ace Dad' and thanked the tireless effort of rescuers involved in the operation.
"Everyone who knew John will be grieving," she said.
"We had wonderful plans for our adventurous future as John prepared to retire, and though seldom sitting still, we were so contended and utterly happy after almost 40 years together.
"He filled every moment with something worthwhile, but not in agitation or restlessness. He could find the funny side of most things and enthuse those around him to be the best they could be.
"The world was there to be explored, from his earlier days in Bradford, in St Bede’s Scouts, canoeing in the First Division Slaloms, and playing rugby at Bradford Salem.
"He stayed with rugby and played a rather brutal flanker into his fifties before sliding into the refereeing side of things in Cumbria."
"Moving to the Lake District in 1990, he was quickly a 'local character' around Hackthorpe, and despite the massive burden of responsibilities he soon bore as a Headteacher at the West Cumbria Pupil Referral Unit, he remained an “Ace Dad” to Claire and Ruth.
"Much of his recreation featured two wheels of one shape or another, and in place of the underground exploration that had taken him to New Zealand, Switzerland and Derbyshire and the Yorkshire Dales in the past, he transferred his attentions to the high fells.
"He maintained his Mountain Leadership and diverse “Outdoor Pursuits” qualifications for over 30 years, and knew especially the Western Fells with a respectful but affectionate familiarity.
"As a family we spent most weekends in rivers, on lakes or up hills close to home, but accepting that John was in a different league of adventurer, it was no hardship to wave him off whenever he could, on a more extreme challenge with his brother Anthony, or similarly athletic friends.
"He cherished his close connections with all his brothers, his mum and dad and wider family and we had some powerfully enduring friendships.
"God created something very special in John and the world seems a slightly lesser place without him. I’m aware another family lost a loved one, walking on a different upland area, and my heart goes out to them too.
"His warm smile, idiotic sense of mischief, great fried breakfasts, strange ability to break things and loud vocal renderings of early rock classics will stay with us forever. As his beloved girls said, he was just “The Best."
A spokesman for Keswick MRT said John was experienced and was on a planned ride around Skiddaw.
"We set off to comb the area, focussing on the track between Dash Falls, Skiddaw House and Keswick," he said.
"The missing man's body was found after two and a half hours by a search dog attached to Patterdale MRT, 60 metres down a steep rocky gully close to Lonscale Fell.
"He had obviously fallen a long way and had suffered multiple fatal injuries. His bike was found fairly close to a path section on Lonscale Fell which is notoriously slippery when wet, and which has seen a number of accidents."
The team set up a lowering system to safely recover his body 400 metres down to the track below.
Comments are closed on this article.