REMARKABLE, loyal – and a bit of a loose cannon.
Those were the heart-warming words used to describe former councillor and campaigner John Thompson at his funeral.
The 66-year-old, of Park Gate, Fareham, died on Boxing Day following a short illness.
And yesterday nearly 200 people, including political figures, friends and families, turned out to pay their respects and say goodbye to the popular public figure.
The poignant service at Portsmouth’s Kingston Cemetery Chapel was held before a jazz band led a procession to Mr Thompson’s burial spot.
Southsea resident Paul Hartley spoke fondly of his close friend – who also enjoyed a lengthy career as a writer, producer and broadcaster.
Describing him as a ‘remarkable man’ who achieved so much in life, Mr Hartley said: ‘Many people claim to make a difference, but John Thompson actually did.
‘I was proud to know him, and I miss him terribly.’
Sandra Smith, of the Kings Theatre, knew Mr Thompson for six years as he helped out doing some filming of the pantos.
‘He was a very kind man,’ she said. ‘He had a love for the Kings Theatre right from the age of six.
‘If you asked him for anything, he would always give his time. He was so loyal in every way.’
Mr Thompson’s wife Rita said: ‘John was a very, very special man. I was stunned by the turnout.
‘I am going to miss him and I don’t know what I will do without him.’
Mr Thompson helped to raise awareness of the plight of the female constituent subjected to the advances of the Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock.
Civil rights lawyer Harriet Wistrich, who represented the woman during a civil case against Mr Hancock, said in a statement that Portsmouth had lost a ‘champion of truth and justice and will be the poorer’ without Mr Thompson.
Former Labour MP Syd Rapson said: ‘He was larger than life, and he brought humour to everything he did.
‘He was a good guy who raised your spirits up.’
A small wake was held afterwards at North End Baptist Church.