Tributes have been paid to John Brodrick, a past chairman of the ME Association known for ‘getting things done’, who has died after a long illness, aged 82. John volunteered as an MEA trustee in the early ‘nineties, playing a leading role through to his retirement as chairman in 2000.
He was hugely proud of his career as an NHS nurse. John specialised as a mental health nurse before he became ill with M.E. at the age of 48, when he was forced to retire from the job he loved.
After coronavirus arrived, he was living in extra care housing in Salford. During the Thursday night claps for the NHS, he would sit on the balcony to his flat in his wheelchair, with his NHS badges on.
Our medical adviser, Dr Charles Shepherd, remembers John well:
“This is very sad news,” he said. “Having a nursing background, along with a real passion to help people with ME, made him an excellent chairman of the MEA.
“John was a larger-than-life character with a great sense of humour. We became good friends and kept in touch long after his retirement from the MEA.
“John’s determination to ‘get things done’, combined with his kindness and compassion, will be missed by many of our members who were around at the time.”
John was brought up in Stockport and met his wife Tricia in the local church choir. After 40 years of marriage, Tricia sadly passed away in 2007.
John joined the NHS after National Service in the RAF. He made such an impression on those he worked with that one of his trainee nurses, Roary, became a lifelong friend. He and Tricia settled in Warwick, with John taking up positions in various hospitals in the area.
Ruth Malkin, who worked with John on a number of disability access issues in Manchester and broke the news to us of his death, said: “After retirement, John approached the MEA for advice and guidance. He found the charity so helpful that he joined and soon rose to be its chair.” John became godfather to her son, Kaspian.
While he was chairman, the MEA went from being a self-help organisation to being a national charity of repute. John used his ability to influence people from all walks of life to raise awareness of M.E., and lobbied Parliament to enable people with ME to claim Disability Living Allowance.
Colin Barton, chair of Sussex and Kent ME Society, added: “We have fond memories of when we both worked with John on the MEA’s board of trustees and when David was the charity’s administrator working at the old Stanford-le-Hope office in Essex. Things were never dull when John was around.”
After standing down as chair in 2000, John became President of the Association and embarked on a three-month tour of Australia and New Zealand, raising more awareness and giving the Association an international profile.
In later years, John moved back to Manchester, where his father had worked, and became a member of Manchester Cathedral. Throughout his retirement, he continued to support homeless people and other disabled people, giving his time to local user-led charities.
John died on 21st March and the funeral was held on 8th April. Anyone who wants to mark his passing is invited to make a donation to the ME Association.