John Sales

26th February 1952 – 5th December 2021

Tributes and Messages of Condolence Received by Mary and Chris

The news that we had lost John came just after hearing of the departure of Radio London's John Edward, so some tributes mention a connection with the two passings happening very close to each other.

Mary Payne

I first met John on Walton Pier in 1997. He was part of the Anorak Brigade, a group of us who turned up to listen to the radio and enjoy each other's company during the Big L '97 broadcast. At the time, few people had internet access or even mobile phones, but only two years later, Chris and I launched the Radio London website.

I've lost count of how many other radio events that John, Chris and I have shared since then, not to mention numerous birthdays and other happy occasions. John's sudden and untimely departure has caused tremendous shock to all his friends, who know that celebrations can never be the same without him. The last time we saw John was on the Tattershall Castle on December 23rd 2019, when we commemorated Radio London's birthday. We could never have imagined what the world had in store for us in the months ahead.

During lockdown, we were aware that John was suffering badly with loneliness and isolation and missing his regular meetings with his family and friends tremendously. We were very pleased to know that during the summer of 2021, John was able to go to Harwich and participate in Radio Mi Amigo. It was clear from his reports that he enjoyed a wonderful time aboard the LV18 in some very good company and that the experience had made a huge difference to his wellbeing.

The radio world will never be the same without you, John. We shall miss you tremendously and of course the many reports that you contributed to the website.

Mary, pp Chris and Mary Payne, Webmasters.

"Fab" Alan Field (Fab 40 Guru)

I can't help thinking about John and still can't get my head around the idea that he's gone. I knew John for 20 years. He was one of the first people I met in the Radio London family and in that time we went to practically all of the same events and gatherings. We always looked out for each other and always had the most brilliant chats. He was not only a devoted fan of all things offshore radio, and a font of knowledge on technical stuff and computers, but a great guy to talk to generally and really good company.

The pandemic brought us even closer and we used to phone for a chat every week on a Thursday afternoon. We talked for hours, through more than a year and a half of shielding and lockdowns, supporting each other and putting the world to rights. I'm really going to miss him. A lot.

Alan Field

Picture: Fab Alan and John at Offshore 50

Jon Myer (The Pirate Hall Of Fame)

We're all going to miss John. He was a one-off, a truly unique individual.

Our gatherings on the Tatty won't be the same without him.


Dave and Pauline Miller

We first met John over 20 years ago now at an offshore radio anniversary broadcast when we learned he shared our enthusiasm for all things offshore radio and we shared similar memories of pirate radio from the sixties.

John living in Essex and we in Suffolk were in a jolly good location to listen to the broadcasts from ships off Suffolk, Essex and the Kent coast, the primary ones being Radio London and Radio Caroline, of course.

We soon became good friends and over the years we met up with John at events various celebrating or commemorating anniversaries of the birth of true radio broadcasting and closedowns as well as many personal events.

John was such a lovely person, a good person all round, always considerate and helpful and we enjoyed many happy and cheerful times together over the years. He was also a great teacher regarding many things and we learnt a lot from him.

As we write this we're still feeling shocked at his passing, it being so horribly sudden and unexpected. He had a lot more to give and we'll miss him terribly, as we suspect will the world of offshore radio and all the folk out there keeping the memories of good radio alive and supported.

Dave & Pauline Miller

Keith Skues

What incredibly bad and sad news about John Sales. He was such a loyal Radio London fan and contributed much to independent radio – even transmissions from the LV18 in Harwich.

I shall, forever, retain the wonderful birthday card he sent me for my 82nd birthday last March.

Like you, I am most upset by John's passing.

Cardboard Shoes

Howie Castle (Bud Ballou)
I was shocked and saddened by the news of John Sales's unexpected passing. I always enjoyed meeting and talking with John during my visits to the UK. He was such a nice person and will be missed.  My condolences to his family and friends.
Ray Reynolds
I was so sorry and shocked to hear of John Sales's passing and pass on my condolences to his family and friends.

Whenever I attended our radio events I would pleased to meet up with John again either at your get together events on the Tatty or Harwich and elswhere organised by your goodselves.

Spending all day with him on the LV18 when he was volunteer guide was fun and at Felixstowe I enjoyed his company for the Caroline plaque unveiling day.

I will treasure all those good memories we have all shared with dear John and our love for Radio London.
Brian Nichols (Felixstowe and Offshore Radio)

What a shock with the news about John Sales. He was also at the Dec 2017 gathering of course, and represented you at our stone unveiling weekend in Sept 2017.

My deepest condolences to you and Chris at this doubly sad time.

Hans Knot


This is an unbelievable sad Sunday. First the sad new about the passing of John Edward and now this very sad news that John Sales passed away.

Specially for the both you and Chris this is a very sad loss as he was very cooperative within the Radio London nowadays organization and a great friend of both of you.

Hope you both have the strength to carry this loss.

With warm wishes from Jana and Hans

John Hutley
Very sorry to hear of this shocking news. John Edward too. Thinking of you and Chris during what must be a very difficult time.
Tony Lawther
Awful. So so sad. Such a lovely guy.
Much love, in grief.
Mike Barraclough

Very sorry to hear this. My deepest condolences to you and Chris at the loss of your close friend.


Mike Terry

So sorry Mary. I'm glad I met him. He was fascinating to talk to and wrote some interesting articles for the Radio London website that live on.

Condolences to you and Chris.


Tony O'Neil (Lightvessel LV18)

This is truly shocking news. We are also totally lost for words. The very finest, dearest, most loyal friend.


Tony and Heather

Ray Clark (Broadcaster)

This really is very sad news and, as you say, quite a shock.

I didn't know John well, but he was always very pleasant to chat with and I know he was a loyal supporter of Caroline North and a regular listener to my BBC show - a very 'gentle' man. He will be missed.

Such sad news, thank you for letting me know.


Martin van der Ven

What sad news. At numerous meetings I had the opportunity for intense conversations with John. Each time I felt how kind, sensitive, attentive and humble he appeared. It was thus a pleasure and an honour at the same time to meet with John. All the greater the loss for you and ultimately all radio friends.

My heartfelt condolences!


Penny Bowskill (widow of Caroline North DJ, Jason Wolfe)

Oh Mary, that really is terrible news. He was such a lively, fun guy and will miss him a lot at your 'dos'.

My condolences to his family and you and all who knew him.

Take care of yourselves,

Love Penny xx

Jon Sketchley (Carillon Radio)

It was such a shock.

John and I had chatted 2/3 times a week usually about radio and he planned coming to Coalville for a few days after New Year (Covid permitting).

We go back to 1995 I think at some rally and have been friends ever since. He will be so missed in radio circles and as a very good friend.

I am so sorry!


Regards to you and Chris


Paul Rowley (ex-BBC Local Radio Political Correspondent)

Sorry to hear the sad news, Mary.

I always enjoyed chatting to John at the Radio London reunions and anniversaries that you and Chris have organised aboard the Tatty when we talked about the "good old days" of radio.

I remember when I first met him he was wearing a badge with his name on it saying :


I joked that I was "Paul News" and suggested we should have been at a radio advertising convention. He took it well, considering he must have heard the gag many times before.

You've lost a good friend of Big L, and clearly it's more of a shock when it's unexpected.

Deepest sympathies to you both and the rest of the Radio London family.

RIP John

Tony Currie (Radio 6)

What can I say? Such sad news. Such a lovely man.

I'll miss him.

Gerry Zierler (Guy Hamilton)


We're very sorry to hear the news, Mary.  John was a very nice man and we always enjoyed talking to him.

Thanks for letting me know.

Gerry & Roma

Picture: John with Gerry at a radio event

Ben and Inge Meijering

I'm in shock to read that John has passed away. Some months ago I had sent him an e-mail, but he had not sent a response. It was only yesterday that I posted the yearly Christmas card to John.

I have great memories of John and the time that we spent together at all the radio/offshore events in the UK. The last time was in 2017 at Offshore 50 in London.

Our condolences to Chris and yourself for losing such a good friend.

Ben and Inge

Chris Brisland

I just wanted to say how shocked and saddened I was to hear of the passing of John Sales. I have met him many times over the years, usually on board the LV18 in Harwich, and have talked to him for many hours about all things radio.

I first met him at Pirate BBC Essex 2007 and he took a great interest in the vintage transistor radio I was carrying around with me. Over the years since we have often met up at various radio events and talked about all kinds of things, such as offshore radio history, vintage radio sets, technical stuff, etc, etc... never ran out of things to say to him or to ask him about.

I couldn't believe it when I heard that he had died so suddenly - it was only back in August that I last saw him at the Radio Mi Amigo Weekend in Harwich and we spent many hours chatting and catching up, as well as discussing the technical aspects of Radio Caroline's 648 transmissions.

I always found him to be very sociable and easy to get on with. A very, very sad loss.

Best wishes to all concerned.

Chris Brisland

George Hare (ex-Radio Caroline)

How very sad to hear that John Sales has passed away.

John was indeed a gentleman – always willing to listen and help all around him.

Let's hope that this new strain of the virus is not too serious and passes over quickly leading to a more joyous time for us all later in the New Year.


Steve Burnham

I feel very sad that John has passed away, and I could not believe it when I heard about it. Like yourselves we have known John a lot of years, and wonderful friendship, his joy of Offshore Radio always shone through, and I always left Harwich excited after talking about radio with John. Many memories always came through, lots of laughs, and joy as we shared our "Wonderful Big L" and sometimes Caroline info and memories that we never would forget.

Last time I spoke to John, he said to me that he was looking forward to meeting up in Harwich again. Radio would never die with people like John who was totally committed to Offshore Radio, and John will always be remembered by lots of people in the offshore world. Future events may not feel the same again.

I will miss John very much.

Steve Burnham

– Thank you to Martin van der Ven for some of the pictures –

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Tony Lawther's report of John's Funeral