Avid Portsmouth FC fan and popular business owner fondly remembered

MICHAEL Gaffney, owner of Cosham Plant Hire, will be fondly remembered for his ‘kindness’ and colourful character.

Tuesday, 7th April 2020, 4:30 pm
Michael Gaffney

The avid Pompey fan, who passed away aged 87 last Monday after a year-long battle with bowel cancer, was a dedicated family man who had a deep passion for the company he built from his bedroom 48 years ago.

After growing up in Ireland as one of 20 siblings, Michael came to Portsmouth where he met his wife Nora and started his love affair with Cosham Plant Hire.

Although based in Havant, Michael decided to name it after Cosham to mark the place he lived when he founded the company, which went on to become one of the leading plant and machinery operations on the south coast.

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Michael and Nora Gaffney

A popular figure across the area who has employed numerous people and worked with many others, Michael was someone who had the ‘gift of the gab’ and was a colourful individual who ‘everyone had a story about’.

Being woken up on a park bench the following day after Pompey’s famous FA Cup win in 2008 having celebrated so hard is just one of many amusing memories of Michael.

He also built the bridge at Portsdown Hill near the George Pub and countless flats in Portsmouth.

Michael’s daughter Clair, who has taken on running the business, said: ‘Everyone’s got a story about him, he was someone with the gift of the gab. We’ve had so many texts from people saying he was an “amazing man” and a “legend”.

‘He started the business 48 years ago in his bedroom and built an office in his garden. He has employed so many people over the years - a lot of them who wanted to come back to work for him after leaving. He was a hard boss but fair.

‘Cosham Plant Hire was his hobby. He would be over there all the time, even on a Sunday or at Christmas where he would ring his family in Ireland and Australia and tell them all about his grandsons Jarvis and Otto who he adored and would see every day.

‘The only time the company has shut its gates in 48 years was due to the coronavirus pandemic on the day he died. He would not shut the gates for anything - he would always be out driving a lorry around.’

Michael, who lived in Widley near Waterlooville, was also known for his generosity - whether for friends, family or helping charities. ‘He was a man who just couldn’t say “no” to anything. He was the loveliest, kindest person and a crazy Irishman,’ Clair said.

For the past seven years Michael entertained pupils at Portsmouth Grammar School where Jarvis and Otto went by lifting them onto one of his diggers and letting them have a go.

He also raised money for Breast Cancer Awareness after spraying one of his diggers pink.

Michael’s funeral will take place on Tuesday with only immediate family able to attend under social distancing measures. But a wake at the Irish Club, in Elm Grove, Southsea, which Michael was a founder of, will take place when it is possible.

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