Tuesday, 9 November 2010

So tired and feeling sad about John 'Abbo' Abberley

I don't know if it's a combination of the cold weather, the central heating and being excessively busy at work, but I am a mess at the moment.

My complexion is suffering. One minute it's dry, then it's blotchy, then it's spotty - the list is endless. I know I'm not painting a very pretty picture of myself at the moment, but hey, I can't be perfect all the time.

My downer in my mood was pushed further into black yesterday when I heard about the death of a former colleague at BBC Radio Stoke. The man in question was a legend. By the time I started there in 1986, he'd already been there nearly 20 years and was coming to the end of his radio career but John 'Abbo' Abberley was someone who touched everyone's lives and carried on doing so up until his death as a columnist on his beloved Stoke Sentinel, where his fledgling career started when he joined as a cub reporter at the tender age of 17.

He was the kind of person who had his opinions (and not everyone agreed with them) but he put his argument across with conviction and passion. He adored debating, talking politics, sport and issues that affected his hometown. He was one of its fiercest critics but one of its greatest supporters. He believed in the people of Stoke and they believed in him and trusted his judgement.

When I first joined the Beeb, he was already someone who was highly regarded in both print and broadcast journalism, so to find myself working alongside him and rubbing shoulders with him on a daily basis was surreal. As a youngster, I used to listen to him on the radio and never thought for one minute that one day I'd be working with him.

I remember my Mum being really proud of the fact that the great John Abberley was one of my work colleagues. He was held in very high regard by all who worked with him but to the ordinary man in the street, he was a local hero and I say hero in the true sense of the word.

I was very sad when I found out that he'd died because it made me think about the happy times I had in local radio and in my earlier days there, John was such a big part of my working day and was always on hand with some advice, words of wisdom or a throw away remark that would leave you in stitches.

He was a great story-teller. He could hold the attention of a room and have the audience eating out of the palm of his hand.

If I was feeling a bit low before-hand, after hearing about John's passing, I was feeling so very, very sad.

It takes something like this to make you realise that our time on this earth is very short and that we should make the most of every opportunity and take each day as it comes.

One of the stories I tell about John is the fact that he used to act absent minded, but he was as sharp as a tack. If I was to say the phrase, 'Am I On Yet' to anyone who worked at BBC Radio Stoke, they would all know that it was indeed John that I was talking about.

I hope the tributes will be coming in thick and fast for him and that his family will take comfort from them because it will show them just how loved he was and what a big hole there will be in the hearts of all those who knew him.

He was a great person, with a fabulous sense of humour as this clip will prove - enjoy. He'll be entertaining them in Heaven now!

John 'Abbo' Abberley. Legend.