MORE than 700 people attended the funeral of a Moreton grandfather of four whose death at the age of 45 is still shrouded in mystery.
John Robert Dennis worked with disadvantaged children in Wirral for many years. His last post was at Meols children’s home Brookfield until it closed last year.
He would also dress up as Father Christmas for the Moreton Christmas lights switch on.
Cousin Rachel Male said: “It was a big shock to all the family and it still doesn’t feel real.
“John was popular, more than 700 people came to his funeral. They followed his coffin to the church.
“The day before he died, in the morning, [his wife] Janet found him at home and he wasn’t breathing, he was unconscious.
“Paramedics managed to get a slight pulse back and they took him to the intensive care unit at Arrowe Park Hospital, but he passed away the next day.
“The post mortem couldn’t find the cause of death. Medics said his heart was healthy and something would have shown if it was that. He was a healthy man.
“Tests are still being carried out and it will be up to 10 weeks to find the cause.
“He was the life and soul of the party everywhere and liked to help everybody, he would do all he could to help people and would get involved in things.
“He had been Father Christmas at the Moreton lights switch on since I was little.
“John would always volunteer for things. He would stand outside KIND charity shop in Moreton dressed as Santa to collect donations, he also sat on the sledge for the Christmas parade.
“At family parties John would be there doing the children’s games. We are a big family and we’re all devastated. He’s gone but he will live on in all of our hearts.”
The Evertonian, who also managed local football team The Farmers, leaves behind wife Janet and four children Mike, John, Charlotte and Carl, four grandchildren and his parents, Ruth and John.
Tributes left on a Facebook page set up in his memory include one from friend Stevie Painter of Moreton who said: “RIP John Moreton has lost a true legend, ya made a lot of people smile Night big fella.”
Another by Lianne Owen, Moreton, added: “R.I.P John A true legend! gonna miss u big fella. Sleep peacefully now John and tell them naughty Angels that am not happy they took u away to soon from ur amazing family.”
A fundraising night is being held on March 16 at the Coach and Horses pub in Moreton with donations on the door. There will be raffle prizes, an auction and Moreton band, Fire, will be playing as they were good friends with John.
Rachel added: “The gig is going to help pay for the funeral and go to his family.
“I contacted the band and they said they’d do it for free.”
Fire vocalist Chris Walters, who works at Arrowe Park Hospital, said: “We wanted to help the family as I knew John for years. He was an absolute legend and everyone knew him. He always used to give friendly banter to LFC supporters.”