The special way Rayleigh is remembering local legend ‘Laughing John’

A community has clubbed together in a bid to raise funds for a memorial for ‘Laughing John’. John Daines was a local celebrity in the Rayleigh community who was known for his infectious smile and sugar eating.

Laughing John, nicknamed so because of his bellowing laugh, touched the hearts of many in the Essex town.Tributes have poured in since news of his death circulated on social media earlier this week.

Members of the local community are now asking for donations of £1,000 to make a special memorial for him in the town. A local celebrity who ‘brightened up the high street’

Clare Buckle has lived in Rayleigh for 13 years and remembers the first time she met John.The 48-year-old said: “I remember my parents pointing him out to me, he was sitting in his wheelchair and then all of a sudden he got up and ran across the road using the Zebra crossing.

“He was best known for his laugh but he would also eat sugar out the bag, there was a video of him doing it that went viral a few years back, that’s probably why he had no front teeth.”

Tributes pour in for Rayleigh legend ‘Laughing John’ whose ‘infectious laughter’ lit up a community,Clare said the things she will remember most about John are his laugh, his wheelchair, his walking stick and his sugar.

Everyday John would walk up and down the High Street and chat to locals and he was also a regular at Hudsons Barbershop.

Mark Hudson, manager of the shop, said: “John often popped into our shop but I wouldn’t say anyone really knew him well. But he was a real character and always brightened up the shop with his laughter.”

The sad story of how a neighbour found Rayleigh legend ‘Laughing John’ dead in his home.Flowers and cards have been laid in the High Street in remembrance of Rayleigh’s local legend.Other items like bags of sugar, cigarettes and walking sticks have also been left as a reminder of John’s quirky habits.

A caricature of John has also been spray-painted on a graffiti wall in Sweyne Park.John played such a big part in the community that in 2015, a Facebook Page called “Laughing Man John of Rayleigh” was set up.Over the last four years, the page has accumulated more than 300 likes and has acted as a platform for people to share their memories of John.

Reece Giles, 29, who created the page for John, said: “He was part of Rayleigh’s history. There is going to be a big void where John once was.”It’s going to be weird in Rayleigh without him. He was so sweet and so harmless, he didn’t have a bad bone in his body.”

Since the news of his death earlier this week tributes have been flooding in for Laughing John.Wendy Davies wrote: “I know he was well loved by lots of local residents, I spoke to him a few weeks ago, a lovely soul and a real part of Rayleigh life. It’s sad that he’ll never know how well loved he was. R.I.P.”

Jane Harris, another follower of the page, said: “It would be nice to see a tree planted in the town as a memorial to such a much loved man by many in Rayleigh.”

While Donna Murrell said: “We need a statue of John in the high street with a button we can press to hear his laugh!”

A permanent memorial for John, Reece has set up a Just Giving page to raise £1,000 to fund a bench for John.The message on the donation Page read: “Laughing John. A deserved memorial for 50 years of sharing happiness in Rayleigh.

“I would like to start a fundraiser for a memorial bench to celebrate the life of laughing John, the biggest celebrity to come out of Rayleigh (back off Mark Francois”The aim is to raise £1000… (I feel Rochford DC will contribute heavily to commemorate a notable person within our town’s modern day history)

“Any additional funds will be donated to Coombwood Resource Centre in Rayleigh who help assist people who are suffering from mental health issues in our area.”John is a true part of Rayleigh‘s modern history and he deserves to be remembered and celebrated much the same as we remember the Dutch Cottage and the Windmill, John should have a permanent, prominent place in our town.

“Thank you for many years of laughter John.”A. R. Adams Funeral Directors on Rayleigh High Street will be organising John’s funeral, for which a date is yet to be confirmed.

Thankyou to Essex Live for their Post:

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