John Kennedy – sadly missed

John Kennedy – sadly missed

We are sad to report the passing of John Kennedy, who died on 26 July 2022, after a short illness, at the age of 94.

John was born in the Lanarkshire mining community of Broomhouse on 17 March 1928 to Sarah and Thomas Kennedy.  At the age of two, he suffered a head injury when he fell from a swing.  The accident is understood to be the cause of John’s learning disability.

John’s mother did not keep good health and when he was eight years old, she left him in the care of his father.  John moved to Edinburgh with his dad, after which he was admitted to Gogarburn Hospital.

John was transferred to East Fortune Hospital and then to Haddington’s Hopetoun Unit, when it opened in 1983.  In 1995, John was one of the first supported individuals to leave the Hopetoun Unit, when he moved to his own tenancy in Tranent.

In 2003, John moved back to Haddington, to live at Hardgate Court with Billy, Ricky and Roseanne.  John and Ricky moved to Mingulay House in 2017, where John lived until his passing last month.

John loved meals out and had a great appetite.  Ann Drummond, an ELCAP Support Practitioner who worked closely with John, shared one of her memories of him:

“I remember once making macaroni cheese for John’s dinner.  Before it was served, I sat it on the table, thinking it was well out of his reach.  When I heard a noise, I turned around to find John had stretched over the table and was happily eating handfuls of macaroni cheese – still with that mischievous smile on his face!”

John had no verbal communication, but he had a way of looking at people – so intensely – while his smile could light up a room.  He had an infectious laugh and loved to have people sit with him, holding his hand.  John loved when staff would put on some music and dance around the room, his face beaming as he watched.

John enjoyed relaxing and could often wander through to his bed – at any time of the day – to have a snooze.  John also enjoyed swimming, although he would soon let staff know if the water was too cold.  He took a few holidays abroad, where he liked the warm weather.

Later in life, John fractured his femur and spent several months in hospital.  When he returned home, he was unable to walk, but took great pleasure in wheelchair trips along the River Tyne and to local cafés.  John particularly enjoyed going to The Loft café for a bowl of soup and a muffin.

John was well-known as a chocolate lover.  Even when he appeared to be sleeping deeply, the rustle of a chocolate wrapper would ensure he was suddenly wide awake.

ELCAP’s Registered Manager, Karen Cowe, began her lifelong commitment to supporting individuals with learning disabilities as a Staff Nurse in the Hopetoun Unit.  John Kennedy was the first person she worked with.

Remembering John, Karen said:

“John was a gentleman in every sense of the word.  He was a fine looking, handsome man, who never seemed to age.  It was always good fun to ask new staff to guess how old he was – they never got anywhere near to his true age, and were usually about 20 years out.”

John was remembered in a humanist ceremony at Seafield Crematorium on Thursday 18 August.  His service was attended by some of the friends he’d made at ELCAP, as well as staff who had worked closely with him.

John was the oldest person supported by ELCAP.  He will be sadly missed, but fondly remembered.