Heartfelt wave of tributes to former Harborough pharmacist Ben Johnson

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Ben Johnson.
Ben Johnson.

The family of a much-loved former Market Harborough pharmacist have been overwhelmed by a heartfelt wave of support from hundreds of well-wishers after he died aged 81.

Paul Johnson, 54, said he and his sister Rebecca, 57, have received over 300 cards as well as flowers, chocolates and other gifts since their father Ben Johnson passed away suddenly last month.

The poignant public response has come after well-known Ben ran his own popular chemist’s on Coventry Road in Market Harborough for 25 years.

Ben and Christine

And the “amiable, sociable” football, cricket and golf fan also got behind leading local charities for many years as well as being actively involved behind the scenes at schools in the town.

Paul, of Tur Langton, near Market Harborough, said: “We have been overwhelmed by the love, compassion and support that we have received since our dad passed away.

“We have been sent over 300 cards by people expressing their sense of loss as well as flowers and chocolates.

“This just goes to show how much our dad was loved and liked right across Harborough – he really was a very special man.”

Ben and Christine

The graphic designer added: “Dad was totally selfless.

“He was a pillar of the community here in Market Harborough.

“Dad was simply a genuinely lovely, friendly man who always put other people first.”

Originally from Barton Seagrave, near Kettering, Ben moved to Market Harborough after falling in love with his lifelong sweetheart Christine, from Little Bowden.

Ben and Christine getting engaged.

The couple were married at St Nicholas Church in Little Bowden in 1962 – and were married for over 58 years.

“They thought the world of each other and were absolutely devoted to each other.

“My mum’s 82 now and living in a care home,” said Paul.

“My dad helped to run the independent chemist’s Tate & Johnson before it became Johnson’s Chemist’s on Coventry Road for about 25 years until the mid-1990s.

Ben and Christine

“I can’t even imagine how many thousands of people he served with pills and potions over the years.

“He had a fantastic rapport with his many customers – and was highly respected and trusted by them all,” said Paul, who said his dad also had two grandchildren Matthew, 32, and George, 29.

“Dad was renowned for miles around for his very own baby bottom cream and Ben’s cough linctus!

“He was a very wise man and a great listener and the girls who worked at his chemist’s over the decades saw him as a real father figure.”

A keen traveller, Ben, who lived on The Headlands, was also a fully-committed member of Market Harborough Rotary Club for over 40 years.

The avid Leicester City supporter also served as a trustee of the Market Harborough and the Bowdens Charity and sat on the Parent Teacher Association at Ridgeway Primary School as well as being a governor at Robert Smyth Academy.

“Dad was also awarded the Paul Harris Fellowship for charity work during his time with the Rotary Club – the highest accolade any member can achieve,” said Paul.

“Due to the current Covid-19 situation we were only allowed 30 people at his funeral at the church in Little Bowden where he and Mum got married almost 60 years ago.

“Otherwise I know for sure that so many more people would have come along to pay their last respects because he was held in such great esteem and high regard by everyone.

“Dad loved to meet up with a special group of friends at a hotel on the Algarve in Portugal every year.

“And my parents adored Norfolk, regularly staying at their static caravan at Beeston Regis between Cromer and Sheringham.

“Rather than flowers we requested donations instead.

“And we’ve already raised over £1,000 for charities close to his heart, the British Heart Foundation and the University of Leicester Medical School (Hypertension and Cardiovascular Research),” said Paul.

“We are a very tight-knit family and I’d also like to mention my Aunt Marion, dad’s younger sister, who lives in Kettering and is also very close to all of us.

“Our dad was a real one-off.

“He was a Dad to be proud of and we will miss him in our lives very single day.

“But the many golden memories that he’s left behind will stay with us all for ever.”

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