Monday, 11 July 2011

In memory of John Welsh

Friends gather to say farewell to John Welsh

Friends of the late John Welsh gathered together recently for a narrowboat trip with a difference along Birmingham's inner city canal route.

John, who was a greatly loved and well known youth worker in Birmingham since the 1960s, died unexpectedly on Christmas Eve 2010. John worked for Birmingham City Council for over 20 years and during this time he operated the City Council's narrowboat for young people, then known as Youth Afloat.

The narrowboat is still used for community and youth activities but is now owned by the St Paul's Community Development Trust in Balsall Heath, though is still berthed at Hockley Port. The narrowboat is now named Ellen Gee.

John's wife Lisa and friends decided it would be a fitting tribute to scatter his ashes over the waters of the canal in Ladywood at one of the spots that he loved so much to steer the boat when it belonged to the youth service in Birmingham. With the support of staff and volunteers from St Paul's Trust a wonderful morning cruise was organised and fittingly the sun shone down for a very pleasant farewell to a dedicated Birmingham disability rights activist and youth worker. 

One of the passengers, Paul Treble, a fellow narrowboat enthusiast from Walsall said:

"Many of us who gathered at Hockley Port moorings on 29th June were John’s boating friends. We came along to witness John’s widow, Lisa, scatter his ashes in the canal from the Ellen Gee, the boat that John loved so much and used so effectively in his work with the young people of Birmingham.

"It was a lovely summer’s day as we left the moorings to make a tour of the Soho, Icknield Port and Oozells Street loops with Lisa sat at the bow of the boat. On our return the ashes were scattered and before leaving we joined hands to remember John and also sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to Lisa as by this time it had emerged that it was also her birthday.

"Our thanks to the St. Paul’s Community Development Trust for the use of the Ellen Gee and we wish them well as they integrate the boat with their other community based activities in Balsall Heath".

Lisa said goodbye to husband John on her birthday (29th June)

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