Tributes to Kettering General Hospital radio presenter who gave 39 years’ service

Former Kettering General Hospital radio presenter Harry Johnson (right) with ex-CEO Derek Bray in 2010, has died
Former Kettering General Hospital radio presenter Harry Johnson (right) with ex-CEO Derek Bray in 2010, has died

Tributes have been paid to a veteran Kettering General Hospital radio presenter who had served the community for almost four decades.

Harry Johnson, 81, died on March 2 following a period of ill health. His funeral was at Kettering Crematorium on Tuesday (April 1), led by hospital chaplain the Rev Roger Brown.

Harry was the longest serving volunteer DJ in Kettering Hospital Broadcasting Association’s 44-year history and made about 2,000 shows.

He also volunteered for a total of about 3,300 hours at the station in his 39-year stint at the station.

Harry was adopted and moved to Kettering as a young man, living in Devon Drive for the last 20 years. His partner, Audrey James, died in June 2011. He was close friends with his neighbours who helped to look after him in later years.

A butcher at Parker and Calton in Sheep Street, Kettering, for 20 years, Harry also worked at Stewarts and Lloyds Steelworks, Corby, at Weetabix, Burton Latimer, and at Rigid Containers, Desborough, before becoming a taxi driver in the 1980s. He continued to drive for various taxi companies up until three years before his death.

Hospital Radio chairman for most of the last 27 years, Wally Valentine, said: “Harry had a love and passion for entertaining people via the medium of radio and what stood out about him was his sense of humour, his enthusiasm, and his loyalty and commitment.

“He was a popular, valued, and valuable, member of our group, a stalwart, a mainstay, and – to use the modern vernacular – a legend.”

Harry did his first shift on hospital radio on October 10, 1975, after a friend invited him to have a go at presenting a programme. In those days hospital radio was in the basement in the old part of the hospital and had just a couple of home-made decks, and a record collection.

In 2010 Harry received a certificate of achievement for 35 years at the radio station from then-hospital chief executive Derek Bray.

Kettering General Hospital’s director of corporate services, Susan Fitzgerald, said: “Harry was our longest-serving hospital radio DJ and was very, very, popular.

“He put a tremendous amount of his own time into making other people feel more cheerful at a difficult time in their lives. He will be sadly missed.”