The angling world says goodbye to John Wilson

More than 300 anglers, friends and family members gathered to celebrate the life of angling legend John Wilson MBE in Norwich Cathedral.

John, voted the greatest angler who ever lived, passed away at his home in Thailand in November 2018.

As news of his death spread across the globe, fans, followers and anglers alike paid tribute to the Go Fishing star, and at 2pm on Friday, May 24 all were invited to celebrate John’s life at the stunning Norfolk venue. 

A host of recognisable faces filled the impressive cathedral including Des Taylor, Jeremy Wade and John Bailey, before heartfelt tributes were led by Keith Arthur and Martin Bowler – who took to the stand to pay their personal respects to a man loved by so many.

Keith said: “It’s been a privilege to be honouring John Wilson today. He inspired millions to take up fishing through his programmes, which were both aspirational and inspirational. His legend will live on.”

Martin struggled to fight back tears in his emotional speech, as he remembered a lifetime of fishing on the bank with his ‘Uncle John.’

“Many here fished with the great man and even if you didn’t, a favourite angling show or book meant you did in a way because the person I knew was the same person you did.  

“I can assure you that the laugh was real and so was the fun because he loved angling and angling loved him. So goodbye John and enjoy the river in the sky. I can hear him now as that longed-for 3lb roach comes over the net – ‘Careful Wilson’!”

Aside from being a superb angler John was also a proud father and his children Lisa and Lee made several appearances on his TV shows.

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His daughter Lisa gave an emotional dedication towards her dad on the day:

“He was a fishing legend, an author and TV presenter – but more importantly he was a husband, brother, son, uncle, grandfather, father, my dad – my world. Being in his company was something I never tired of, and never would have.

“His passion came out of the TV and enabled other people to spend time on the bank together too – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, grandparents and grandchildren. It was a privilege to be his daughter.”

Big-name dedications

Jeremy Wade: “I only met John a couple of times at angling shows but the impact he had on people and the sport we all love was incredible.”

Des Taylor: “He was larger-than-life and his laugh was infectious – louder than a church bell on some days and he still managed to catch fish! I will miss my mate.”

Chris Yates: “I loved watching his programmes. They were very methodical, and he was great at conveying the message that fishing could be fun and productive at the same time.”

Bob Nudd: “John was always good company and an excellent angler too. More than that, he was the first angling celebrity. Even if they didn’t fish, people knew who John Wilson was.”

Ali Hamidi: “I could write an essay on what this man has done for angling. John had so many wonderful terms and phrases, so many incredible TV moments shared with millions.”