John Chapelhow

It is 5 years gone the 26th of June 2010 since we lost our most precious, caring son and brother John, 5 days after celebrating his 18th Birthday with his twin brother Mark and younger brother Dan with all our family and friends.

Unknown to us all John had an undiagnosed heart condition, our fit healthy active John who never complained about anything or anyone, the happiest person enjoying life to the full as he always did.

The night before he passed away John, his brother Dan and friends biked up Hartside from our village (this was the finishing stage of the Tour of Britain 2015) to raise money for our village First Responders, their first fundraising event.

The next morning he had an early start at 6am with his twin brother Mark and friends to the go karting track in Teeside which is a good hour and a half from home. Full of life as usual they all got there in good time for their start at 8am. Mark said John did really well in the test drives and was in 4th position out of 20 to start the race, something he was very pleased with as it was the first time he had beaten his brother and cousin Jonathan in all the years they had gone go karting together. John put his thumb up to the lads and off he went.

They had only done a couple of laps round the track when they were all pulled over to stop the race, the lads got out of their karts wondering what the hold up was when they saw John not crashed, just slumped in the seat of his go kart, the men got him out and were trying to resuscitate him on the side of the track, that was it John had gone, just like that, no warning, nothing, the end of our extremely happy normal family life. Mark phoning us at 9.20am shouting down the phone “you’ve got to get here fast something’s happened to John they’re pumping his heart, he hasn’t had an accident but get here fast, someone else took the phone off Mark and took over saying we need to get to The James Cook Hospital as quick as we could.”

The traffic was really bad that morning Me (John’s Mum), his Dad Keith and younger brother Dan all went, it seemed to take forever to get there, my brother-in-law phoning at intervals to see how near we were, I just kept praying John would be ok, knowing things were serious the way they kept phoning us, not once could I ask what was going on because I didn’t want to hear any bad news. In the end the police met up with us, we left our car in a lay-by on the main road and they drove us at about 100 miles an hour with the siren going to the hospital.

We were met at the accident and emergency door by a nurse who ushered us into a small side room where inside was our son, Mark, John’s twin, our brother-in-law Jerry and nephew Jonathan with the police and other people, the room seemed so full. Mark just grabbed us and we all hugged each other but John was missing, where was he? He’d died, not possible I was dreaming, it was one of those horrendous nightmares, he couldn’t of died he was fit, well, full of life, so happy so many plans he had only just had his 18th birthday, things like this don’t happen to normal people like us!!!! The doctor and nurse sat us down, that’s when they told us they had tried to save him but there was no response.

They took us into the room next door and John was lying there as if he were asleep. From that moment on our lives fell apart, our three boys so close in age, always together, enjoying every second now the two of them broken looking, crying, not believing what was going on, John lying on the bed never to open his big beautiful eyes again, or laugh that infectious laugh again. Leaving John in the hospital and coming home, well no words can ever describe that feeling, getting back home we all just hugged each other. We seemed to stand for ages in silence not knowing what to do, none of us went to bed that night, Keith brought the quilts down off the beds and we all stayed together in the sitting room.

Over five years later and we are still struggling on, remembering John as the happiest and most contented young man you could meet, not one person ever had a wrong word about him and he always saw the best in everyone. He had a full time job from leaving school at the age of 16 doing brilliant in his exams. He went for one interview and got the job on Lowther Estates Farm, he loved nature and the outdoor life, he was in his element running the poultry farm. With over a thousand free range hens, chick rearing from one day old, running the orders and deliveries through the week, I had never known such an organised 16–18 year old, he was left to manage the poultry by the time he was 17 years old, his employers couldn’t speak more highly of John.

The Lowther Family and employees of the estates planted an oak tree in the grounds of Lowther Castle with a plaque in memory of John as a lasting tribute from everyone who thought so much of him. We could never have been more proud of John from the day he was born until that devastating last day we had with him, what should be our happiest days are now the saddest as John isn’t here to share them with us. Other’s manage and we will too, like everything you plan for your future, nobody really has any control over things, as we say ‘take one day at a time’. Life is so hard and cruel, we now try our best to live life so John is never ever forgotten he will always be with us, we will always love and have three boys as long as we live, John, Mark and Dan xxx

Judith Chapelhow