An 82-year-old great-grandfather will be taking on The Anfield Abseil at Liverpool Football Club’s stadium. The 100ft abseil is all to raise vital funds for Queenscourt Hospice.
John Blackhurst has been a keen Liverpool FC fan since the 1950s and has never done an abseil before, but he says he is excited by the challenge.
John will be doing his abseil on Sunday 16th July 2023 and is inviting people to donate to his fundraising page on the JustGiving website.
John is a proud Dad to three children, and also has nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
The Southport resident founded Blackhurst Butchers 60 years ago, which is today based at Southport Market and run by his son, Tony.
John Blackhurst said: “I am a lifelong Liverpool FC supporter and I am doing this in memory of two young men who have been lost over the past six years, who had brilliant end of life care at Queenscourt Hospice.
“Any donations are welcome, big or small!
“We believe no-one should face a life-limiting illness alone. Our aim is to give adults with far advanced, serious and progressive diseases the best possible specialist palliative care free of charge, whilst supporting their families and carers.
“The abseil came about because my daughter, Julie Rimmer, is a big Liverpool FC fan, as I am. “We were chatting one day and she said ‘they are doing abseiling experience at Anfield’.
“I thought nothing more about it but must have said I’d do that!
“And then on Father’s Day, they gave me a Father’s Day card in an envelope. Inside the card was a voucher for an abseil at Anfield as a surprise.
“I was made up!
“But then I thought if I’m going to be doing something so challenging at my age, then I should at least be doing it for charity!
“I really want to raise money for Queenscourt Hospice.
“My daughter’s husband, Stephen, sadly died at Queenscourt.
“The end of life care they gave him was just fantastic. It’s a very special place, the people who work there are amazing. We even had a birthday party there for him outside in the lovely gardens before he sadly passed away the next day.
“My granddaughter, Jade Hooper, lost her husband, Stuart, at just 31 years old. He had a rare form of Ewings sarcoma cancer and was given care at Queenscourt too.
“Stuart was in during lockdown when there were so many restrictions in place which was even more distressing but again, everyone at Queenscourt tried their best to make him as comfortable as possible and assisted in getting him home to be with his family.
“Both Stuart and Steve were both fit, strong young men who loved outdoor pursuits and adventure so it only seemed right to attempt this challenge in memory of them !
“I am determined to raise as much money for Queenscourt Hospice as I can.
“I am doing really well so far. I’ve raised nearly £500 which is a good start.
“I have never done an abseil before!
“I am really looking forward to it, it is a great challenge.
“I am a bit adventurous too and I keep myself fit. I play golf twice a week and I play bowls too, although nothing quite like this.”
Anfield will be a special place for John to do his fundraising challenge.
He said: “I had been a season ticket holder at Liverpool Football Club for years and still go with my son and daughter and their kids now too.
I am looking forward to touching the famous ‘This Is Anfield’ sign on my way in!
“I have been going to watch them play since I first started going in the Boys’ Pen, when it was in the top corner of the ground.
“I first saw games in the Billy Liddell era in the 1950s, when I was 10 / 11 / 12. Years old. I was born in 1941 in the Anfield area of Liverpool.
“My favourite Liverpool FC player of all time was Steven Gerrard. He was always driving his team forward, he could score goals from midfield, he could pass, he could do the lot. He was brilliant.
“I also loved watching Billy Liddell, Roger Hunt, Ian St John, Ian Rush, Kenny Dalglish. We have had so many great players. Kenny Dalglish has been my second favourite player.”
John has had a long career as a butcher, a trade proudly carried on today by his family through Blackhurst Butchers at Southport Market.
John said: “I started working as a butcher for Co-Op when I left school delivering meat on my butcher’s bike up and down Anfield Road .I left there when I was 18 after working for Sparkes brothers for a couple of years I opened my first butcher’s shop when I was 22 years old on County Road in Walton in Liverpool.
“I went into business with my brother Jim which worked well as he was a Blue so we could both cover for each other on match days! ,
“Then we moved into Southport Market – We are celebrating our 60th anniversary this year!
“I retired at 65 and was delighted when Tony took over running the family business.
“I am really proud of Tony taking over. The good thing is that he has kept up the tradition of selling only good quality meat, that has been the secret of our success.
“We’ve seen a lot of changes over the years in Southport Market, but I’m glad Blackhursts is at the heart of the new look social hub it is today and everyone seems to love it.
“I have been very lucky in having such a lovely family. We all get on great and it’s my Diamond Wedding Anniversary this year too.
“They all said I am crackers doing this abseil at my age! I don’t care!”
John’s son, Tony Blackhurst, said: “I think it’s really good that Dad is doing this abseil at 82!
“He is very fit and very active for his age.
“People think it’s great that he’s doing it, and he’s raised a really good amount of money already. “As a family, we’re really proud of him and would love to see people support his fundraising appeal.”
Queenscourt Hospice is a local charity that provides end of life support and care for the people of Southport, West Lancashire and Formby.
The charity cares for patients with serious illnesses, enabling them to achieve the best possible quality of life at each new stage.
Queenscourt cares for patients both in the hospice and at home through its In-Patient Unit, Queenscourt Connect and Queenscourt at Home services.
The charity requires over 100 professional staff members to stay open, including doctors, nurses, healthcare assistants, physiotherapists and many other roles.
You can support John Blackhurst in his charity challenge for Queenscourt Hospice on his JustGiving page here.