Ex-firefighter dies during cycling holiday

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John Body with wife Linda

By ALEXANDER LAWRIE

TRIBUTES have been paid to a super-fit fire hero who has died after collapsing with a heart attack during a mammoth eight-month cycling tour of the US.

Former-Royal Marine John Body, 56, fell from his bike while cycling up a steep slope in front of his wife Linda in the southern US state of Georgia last week.

Devastated Linda, 55, from Dunfermline, Fife, frantically tried to save her husband by administering CPR, but the ex-firefighter was pronounced dead on arrival at the nearby Perry Hospital.

The couple’s cycling tour was described as a “lifetime’s ambition” by Mrs Body who revealed the pair were just seven days into their dream trip when her husband passed away on May 12.

Mrs Body praised locals in the small American town for their “unbelievable hospitality” and was “overwhelmed” with their help and support following the tragedy.

Lifetime Ambition

Mrs Body said: “We had been looking so forward to the trip and had planned to cycle right across the States. We had left things open-ended and thought we might try and head to Australia and New Zealand afterwards.

“The trip was a lifetime’s ambition for both of us.

“It had been really hot that whole week – in fact the day John passed away the temperature was in the 40s.

“We set off as usual at seven am, but after a couple of miles we had to pull in because John was complaining of a sore, dry throat.

“He said he would give it half-an-hour and see what he felt like then.

“He seemed fine and we were both really enjoying the ride.

“I was right behind him as we approached the top of a steep climb and he just keeled over to the side.

“I rushed over and tried to give him CPR but there was no response. Drivers on the road pulled over and called the ambulance for us, but unfortunately it was too late to save him.”

Daughter rushes to comfort mum

Mrs Body also revealed locals in the town of Perry, Georgia, rallied round and made sure she had somewhere to stay and that she was not left alone.

She then had the unenviable task of telephoning her only daughter Katie, 22, to tell her the bad news.

Katie, and her husband Ben, immediately flew out to the US to comfort her distraught mother.

Mr Body, who had no previous history of heart trouble, was then cremated at a service held at the local funeral home in Georgia.

A keen cyclist, climber and hill-walker, Mr Body worked as a firefighter for 26 years before suffering a back injury when a burning lintel fell on him forced him into retirement in 2001.

A spokesperson for Fife Fire Service said: “John Body was a valued and trusted member of the fire service and our thoughts are with his wife and family at this time.
 
“During his time with the Service, John received the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.

“He was also commended for his actions at a road traffic collision when he put his life in danger to assist the driver who was trapped in the cab of his overturned lorry.”

Before that he had served for nine years in the Royal Marines, which he had joined straight from school, and had completed four dangerous tours of Northern Ireland.

Hometown memorial planned

And since being forced to retire from the fire service, Mr Body has been working as a mobile library driver for Fife Council.

Dorothy Browse, Service Manager, Libraries and Museums, said: “We were all very shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden death of a very popular colleague, while on the holiday of a lifetime with his wife, cycling across the United States.

“John operated the Mobile Library service in central and west Fife for nine years, making many friends in the course of his work.  He was always keen to help his customers and colleagues, going the extra mile when required. 

“He forged strong friendships which extended outside work, where his help with DIY projects was especially welcome.

“John was a highly valued member of staff, always reliable and cheerful, and is now sadly missed by all who knew him.”

A memorial service will be held at East End Park in Dunfermline on Sunday, and Mrs Body has asked for no flowers but said that donations can be made to the ex-servicemen charity fund Help for Heroes via the website www.justgiving/lindabody.

1 COMMENT

  1. Thank you so much for your article in last week’s Daily Mail. There was a ceremony on Sunday for John and unfortunately, I forgot to ask people to complete the Condolences book [as I forgot to bring it!]. I was really quite upset at that as these was in excess of 100 people there many of whom I’d heard of but never met.

    I’ve typed up a few words and wondered if there was anyway that you could maybe add a small column in this week’s press. It’s too big to add in the Thanks column.

    I do hope that you can help [but more than likely have to reword it] as I would really love those people to contact me.

    Thanks for all your help and hope to hear from you in due course.

    A Celebration of Life ceremony was held for John on Sunday at East End Park in Dunfermline. I wasn’t sure how many people would attend and had arranged for between 60 to 80 seats. However, John was well known and well liked as was evident by the turnout in excess of 100 and I would like to thank everyone for their support and good wishes.
    My regret for the day was that I had a Book of Condolences and I wanted people to record their names, perhaps their addresses and hopefully their comments however it wasn’t until I was on the way home that I remembered about the book which I had left behind. I felt quite disheartened.
    If possible, I would like anyone who attended to send an email with their details and comments to [email protected] and I could then cut and paste these details into the book. Unfortunately, there were too many people for me to remember all of the names and I don’t know some of the addresses.
    The was an excellent representation from the Fire Brigade with two tenders parked outside the building and the Library services also had a huge contingent from both Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline where John had worked.
    There was even some old friends from the Marines whom I’d heard John speak of numerous times but had never met. It’s only a pity that John had waited so long before contacting them as he would have loved to have actually met them again.
    Friends and members of the Fife Sea Kayaking Club came to say goodbye as did neighbours and friends of both John and mine including past work colleagues of mine from when I used to work in the town in the local Abbey National. It was wonderful to see all of these people and feel their support.
    Of course, family members were also present with most travelling long distances as Dunfermline was not John or my home town, but our adopted home.
    The donations to HelpForHeroes has been excellent with the current balance at £867 and on behalf of the recipients of these funds, I would like to thank you all for your donations either at the service or directly through http://www.justgiving.com/lindabody

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