His drive and business acumen set him apart from many of his contemporaries, and his personality was such that he engaged with people in a way that they too benefited from these strengths, and were encouraged to realise their own potential.
He was a very strong and at times forceful character but his leadership skills meant he brought people along with him, people believed in him and bought in to his ideas and the company philosophy. Indeed, it is no surprise that many of those now running very successful businesses in the sector were “students” of John and “graduates” of the Hevac regime.
Known variously as John, Sean or JP, he was a unique man who, despite his enormous success in business, kept his feet very firmly on the ground. The massive turnout for his funeral bears testimony to the mark of the man, not so much as a businessman but more as an incredibly decent human being who personally touched all who came into contact with him.
It is impossible to capture the essence of John English in the space available here but the three personal memories we have included do go some way to doing that.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam. Pat Lehane
Incredibly generous with his time I first met John when we played hurling together at Under 14 level and, over the years as we progressed up through the various age groups to minor level, we developed a strong and lasting friendship. This friendship not only continued but strengthened as we became adults and began to make our way in life. In fact, there was a time when we used to meet regularly in London when I was working there and John would be over on business.
It was during this period that we conceived the idea for the Tipperary Supporters Club and the incredible success of this initiative cemented our enduring lifetime friendship. We met regularly on Club business and of course travelled extensively together to matches all over the country.
John – or Sean as he was to me – was extremely generous. He sponsored teams at all levels and was always very supportive when it came to fundraisers such as the many golf classics we organised. However, even more important was that he was incredibly generous with his time and always available to help solve a problem, or simply to be there and listen. Not a day goes by when I don’t think of him. Don O’Mahoney
Wanted nothing in return I met John in 1986 when I was the Tipperary hurling manger and John was one of the founding members of the newly-established Tipperary Supporters Club. Back then county board resources were thin on the ground and … we had not a shilling to buy a hurley or a sliothar.
Right from the outset the Tipperary Supporters Club was a huge success. Throughout my time in charge of the Tipperary hurling team we went from the doldrums to winning five Munster Championships and two All Irelands. Without the Tipperary Supporters Club that would not have happened. John English typified the type of people we had on board … GAA people at heart who, like John, gave it their all and wanted nothing in return.
John and I became firm friends. From meeting up regularly at meetings and fund-raising events, and of course travelling to games, this relationship extended to our wives also. As a result Nancy and I and John and Martha became very close and indeed they both joined us on the many Tipperary team trips abroad.
There were times over the years that I went to John for support and advice on various matters, both personal and re the team, and he was always very generous with his time. I did not always like the answer I got but he was always right.
Nor was it just about friendship. John was the type of man that you genuinely respected, something which extended to all the players, at every level, who were lucky enough to come into contact with him. He will be missed by everyone he touched. Babs Keating
You aspired to be like him The John English I knew was an old-style gentleman … and a very kind and gentle man. He was also an incredible businessman, a tough task master but a very supportive and fair one. He was a strong leader but it was not a case of his way or nothing. He always encouraged your input.
I worked for him for 42 years and not a day went by that I did not look forward to going to work. Under his guidance I enjoyed a wonderful career path at Hevac, being given more responsibility and more senior roles as time went on. I was fortunate in that I worked very closely with him, especially when it came to facts and figures. He loved statistics and had an incredible grasp of the finer details at a time when computers were nothing like they are today.
His attention to detail was amazing and he had his finger on everything. He did not hide away in his office but instead spent his time on the floor. This was not in an intrusive way though. From the most junior to the most senior staff member, he treated everyone the same. He knew the role they played in the company but also knew them personally. He regarded Hevac as one big family.
He had a wonderful personality that rubbed off on all who worked for him. He inspired an incredible loyalty in people and you always wanted to do your best for him. Look at me, 42 years later and still here. Evelyn Carroll