Brixham fishing community pays tribute to a local hero

John Friend's life at sea

John Friend's life at sea - Credit: Contributed

Family, friends and fishermen have been paying tribute to a true legend of the Brixham fishing community. 
John Friend sadly passed away at the end of May, aged 83, and the outpouring of kind words, tributes and memories tell the story of a man who made a huge impression on Brixham life. 
Born in 1938 to Bill and Nora Friend, he enjoyed an extremely happy childhood, starting in his first house at Burton Place in Brixham. 
The family moved to Scotland during the War years before returning to the family home and welcomed his brother Mike in 1946, who recalls playing darts in the kitchen as a family. 
Trips to Fishcombe Cove and catching prawns was part of the household routine, continuing when John had a family of his own. 
A talented gymnast as a schoolboy, John competed for Great Britain at an event in Sweden and attended Homelands School in Torquay. 
His fishing career began at the age of just 15, alongside his father, although those early days on the water were blighted by sea sickness, which he thankfully soon overcame. 
John and his friend Ken Thomas became the youngest fishermen to hold a Skipper’s ticket. John would go on to win the first motorised trawler race with his father in 1963, and again in 1969, the same year his son Graeme was born, joining older sister Heather. 
The family would live in the same house from 1961, losing his beloved wife in 1996, and then his second wife sadly passed away in 2017, but John would never complain, always using his faith to stay strong.  
An extremely talented and dedicated fisherman, John spent many years on his boat 'Irenic' and then worked as Skipper on the Devon Seas Fisheries Protection Boat. 
Upon retirement, John was a volunteer at Brixham Museum and was heavily involved at the Brixham Fishermen’s Mission, running the veteran’s meetings.  
It was a life spent on the sea and John Friend left a fabulous impression on everyone he met. Torbay salutes a Brixham legend. Sleep tight John.  

Veteran seafarers in the limelight

Veteran seafarers in the limelight - Credit: Contributed

John celebrating his 80th birthday

John celebrating his 80th birthday - Credit: Contributed

John's beloved boat

John's beloved boat - Credit: Contributed

John winning the top prize

John winning the top prize - Credit: Contributed