Tributes for beer festival founder

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ONE of the founders of Atherton’s iconic beer festival has died just weeks after attending this year’s event which was a tribute to his only son.

Tributes have been paid to Bent and Bongs Beer Bash member John Taylor, 67, who lost a brave battle against an unusual form of leukaemia.

The 2011 festival was a fund-raiser for his son, Simon, 34, who died suddenly from an aneurism bought on by the rare Marfan’s syndrome in January last year.

Just two days before John’s death vandals completely burned down the family neon sign business he had run in Manchester with his brother Colin for the past 50 years.

John’s wife, Carol, said that he died proud that the Bent and Bongs had raised such a huge amount for charity while becoming one of the region’s top real ale events, drawing fans from all over the country.

And he was particularly positive that, although ill himself at the time, the 2012 festival was in aid of the charity behind research to find a cure for Marfan’s syndrome.

John, had been to virtually every one of the Bent and Bongs festivals and Simon who joined him on becoming a teenager was also a familiar figure with his 6ft 4in frame crammed behind the cash desk issuing beer tickets and programmes.

After Simon died, the whole family were screened and it was found that John had only two of the three working heart valves so needed and complex but successful heart surgery took place at Wythenshaw Hospital last year.

Accountant Carol said: “John would always be there for us and for anyone who needed help.

“It was a terrible shock when Simon died. His death hit John hard but he said that he had to be strong for me and our daughter, Nykola.

“He was already fighting the leukaemia at this time but it was some time later when he said because he didn’t want to worry us, which was him all over. He was very ill at the time of this year’s festival but he wanted to go along and enjoy a beer and we pushed him in his wheelchair.

“A lot of people said hello, and he had a drink of a special beer from a barrel dedicated to Simon’s memory.

“He died just two days after the family firm he had taken over running, starting straight from school at 16, had been burned down by vandals.

“But I don’t think the fire contributed to John’s death because he was already so very ill at this time although it has certainly made a terrible year for the family even more awful.”

Brian Gleave of real ale group Wigan Camra said: “John was one of the nicest people you could meet and would do anything for you.”