Tributes have been paid to former Norwich Big Issue seller, John Brough, who has died aged 55.

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John was a businessman and Oxford graduate before alcohol dependency left him homeless and alone on the streets.

Thanks to help from numerous friends, his partner Trudy Johnson, and with the help and support he received from Norcas in Norwich - the open access drug and alcohol charity - and the Big Issue he was able for a time to stop drinking and take control of his life.

But his years of alcoholism had affected his health and he died of a heart attack at his home in Barnards Yard, Norwich, on August 7.

His partner Trudy Johnson said: “He was fun, humorous, and very generous when he had money. He was kind and loving and very intelligent. He was also very ambitious and never stopped looking for work. He had a wide range of friends.”

Journalist Ian Wylie, who knew John for over 40 years and delivered the eulogy at his funeral, said: “John had a brilliant brain, an engaging smile and, best of all, a very well developed sense of humour.

“He sailed into a place at St Peter’s College, Oxford with four A-levels and read Modern History, later working in Edinburgh, Cheshire and London.

“He claims his eventual decision to move to Norwich was the result of putting a dart in a map.

“We were all privileged to have met John and desperately hoped that he could somehow beat the cycle of addiction that would take him out of our lives and on to the streets – both during his life in Norwich and many times before.

“Five years ago John wrote a small piece for a Norwich church magazine about what he described as his ‘personal struggle’.

“John said, ‘The path has neither been straight nor narrow. But as well as much sadness there has been great joy along the way’.

“As a lifelong horseracing fan, John knew what it was to win – as well as to lose.

“And although we would all dearly love him still to be with us today, I hope there is some comfort for his many friends in the fact that, for John, his personal struggle is now at an end.”

Another friend Jon Southgate said: “He was a much-loved Big Issue vendor, and well-known on his pitch in London Street, near the Co-op bank, where he sold for more than a decade.

“Originally from Newcastle, he was famously friendly, wise and witty - a true gent.”

His funeral was held yesterday at Princes Street United Reformed Church in Norwich followed by cremation at Earlham Crematorium. Donations at the funeral were requested for Norcas and/or the Injured Jockeys’ Fund.

You can leave your tribute to Mr Brough by commenting at the bottom of this page.

See tomorrow’s Evening News for more tributes to Mr Brough.

8 comments

  • It is very special to hear how John, touched so many people's lives...... It was a privilege for me to share part of my life with him. I hope he has found some peace. My thoughts are with his partner x

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    Denise Brough

    Wednesday, August 22, 2012

  • I bought a couple of big issues from John, never knew his name or his background but obviously made assumptions as you do. But I think you could tell he was a gentle soul, and it just go to show that all walks of life, even Oxford graduates can crumble with the strains of what life throws in front of you, very sad indeed but will make me not judge other Big Issue sellers as quick... rip Smiffy

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    Smiffy

    Tuesday, August 21, 2012

  • I am so sorry to hear John has died we did a college course together, he was a very bright and a lovely guy. My thoughts and condolences go to his girlfriend and family, how sad. Being addicted to drink or drugs doesn't make a bad person John was proof that! I hope he finds the peace he deserves.

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    Tigga

    Tuesday, August 21, 2012

  • i worked with John in a Norwich contact centre, he was a diamond, lovely fellow and always willing to help with a smile. lost contact with him and bumped into John when he was on the streets, so i'm glad he got back on his feet again. condolences to his partner and familyfriends

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    Tim Will

    Wednesday, August 22, 2012

  • So sorry to hear the sad news about John. He had time for everyone, always with a smile and a great story to tell. He was much loved and will be greatly missed. Hopefully he’ll now know peace.

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    Sue

    Wednesday, August 22, 2012

  • I am so sorry to hear John has died we did a college course together, he was a very bright and a lovely guy. My thoughts and condolences go to his girlfriend and family, how sad. Being addicted to drink or drugs doesn't make a bad person John was proof that! I hope he finds the peace he deserves.

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    Tigga

    Tuesday, August 21, 2012

  • A truly lovely man, always had a smile and a cheery word. Even after the drink who would always speak and would often say I know I know you from somewhere, where was it. May he now have the rest and peace he deserves.

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    JP

    Tuesday, August 21, 2012

  • Having worked with John at Norwich Union many years ago, it was a pleasure to know such a pleasant, funny and gentle natured man. It was such a shame he became a victim to the drink. My thoughts are with you Trudy. Take care and may Broughy RIP ...Bennett.

    Report this comment

    Lee Bennett

    Thursday, August 23, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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