John, a man who would ‘roll up sleeves and tackle any job’

master plumber and a retained fireman in Garstang for over 20 years John Fowler from Garstang obit
master plumber and a retained fireman in Garstang for over 20 years John Fowler from Garstang obit

Tributes have been paid to a Garstang man who founded his own plumbing business and was a retained firefighter in the town for more than 20 years.

The funeral of John Fowler, 74, of Church Street, took place at St Thomas’s Church in the town on Friday.

John was known and respected throughout the entire locality.

Canon Ron Greenall, who had been John’s close neighbour for 15 years when he was vicar of St Thomas’s, gave the eulogy and officiated at the funeral.

Canon Greenall said John had been born in 1940 in the same house, directly opposite the church, where he had lived until his death and his burial took place in the family grave directly opposite.

John had attended St Thomas’s School and then Greaves Secondary School. He was baptised at St Thomas’s, attended Sunday school there and was also a choirboy.

On leaving school, John took up a plumbing apprenticeship with a local master plumber, Peter Hine, and later branched out to found his own firm of John Fowler and Sons, now known as Fowlers.

John loved fishing and boating, and as a child had a fascination with and longing to drive “the big red fire engine”. This he fulfilled when, in 1959, he started as a local 
retained fireman, becoming a leading fireman.

He married his wife, Jean, in 1962 and they had four children, George in 1963, James in 1966, Jill in 1967 and Julie in 1970. They also had grandchildren Heather, Jenni, Joel, Abbie, Sam, Sophie, Claudia, Sebastian, and Alistair.

John retired from the fire service in 1979, but was still a very active supporter of the Firefighters Charity.

Canon Greenall recounted nautical tales about John and Jean’s boating experiences after John’s retirement, including the circumnavigation of the British coastline and an incident involving the RNLI.

Just three weeks earlier, over a coffee and a natter of well over an hour, they had discussed how before conversion to gas Canon Greenall’s repeated experiences of “hell” was late Saturday evenings in winter in the church cellar and boiler house, when the old boiler would refuse to spark up.

His vision of “heaven” was John responding to his knock and cry, coming along sleeves rolled up and spanner and hammer in hand, and “sorting out the beast”.

This, he said, then led to the deepest conversation about life, death, and eternity – and everything in between.

He added: “John wore his faith in his heart not on his sleeve, but would roll up his sleeves and tackle any job on church, parish hall, day school and vicarage. He was so practical in everything he did and said to me.”