Tree planted in memory of caretaker with a “heart of gold” who died after cancer treatment was affected by Covid

By Julia Gregory, Local Democracy Reporter

A stunning flowering tree has been planted in memory of a caretaker who died after his cancer treatment was affected by Covid.

John Whall, who looked after residents at the Warwick Road estate for more than 30 years, has been commemorated with a beautiful  Amelanchier tree – also known as the Juneberry or Serviceberry.

It was planted in John Chesterton Square on the Warwick Road estate in Earl’s Court in memory of the 67-year-old.

His family contacted Kensington and Chelsea Council when it launched a memorial scheme to honour residents who lost their lives to Covid-19.

Friends and relatives can apply for a tree or plants to be planted as a memorial or for a bench to be installed.

The plaque at John Chesterton Square reads

“In memory of John Arthur Whall –  27.01.53-30.12.20. You will always be missed by your family and friends. Caretaker for over 30 years.”

Recalling her late brother, sister, Barbara Webley, said: “He was a very kind person. He always helped anybody however he could.

“He was very family orientated. John was a wonderful person with a heart of gold. He would have been honoured that anyone would have done this for him.”

“The tree and plaque both mean that John will not be forgotten. He was loved by many people, neighbours and friends.”

He was one of seven children and  grew up in Latimer Road and went to the Sir Issac Newton School in Ladbroke Grove. He worked as a telegram boy and a postman before joining Marks and Spencer in Bayswater.

He also worked in the evenings at the Lads of the Village pub in Ladbroke Grove, before becoming a caretaker at the council’s Warwick Road estate. He looked after the homes and helped residents at Chesterton Square for over 30 years.

“He loved all the tenants,” said Barbara.

Eventually he had to retire aged 64  due to poor health and underwent a triple heart bypass at the Royal Brompton Hospital in Chelsea.

It did not stop him playing darts four times a week at the Chiswick Club in West London.

Last year he had a scan for his heart which sadly picked up that he had inoperable liver cancer.

Because of Covid restrictions his family were unable to visit him in hospital and there were days he felt unable to talk to them on the phone.

But Barbara said: “He was always positive. He said ‘I’ve got it, there’s nothing I can do about it’.”

He tried a course of chemotherapy tablets and came home to Pembroke Road where she helped care for him.

She said the pandemic made it harder and also meant they could not give him the send-off they would have liked.

However, Chesterton Square residents still plan to hold an event in his honour.

Kensington and Chelsea Council Deputy Leader Cllr Kim Taylor-Smith said:

“We want to take the time to remember and honour the members of our community that have left us and I hope this initiative will provide comfort to their friends and families and improve our community spaces.”

Kensington and Chelsea is still encouraging residents who have lost loved ones due to Covid-19 to take part by emailing [email protected]



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