A MAN who played a key role in setting up an award-winning project for people with learning difficulties in South Tyneside has died.
John Blythe was a much-loved grandfather whose passion to inspire others knew no boundaries.
Those who knew him described him as “one of a kind” who put his heart and soul into helping others achieve their best.
A well-known manager within the day care services of South Tyneside Council he was instrumental in creating the Holder House Project.
The scheme, based in Whiteleas, South Shields, provides a place where adults with learning disabilities can go and learn about horticulture and woodwork.
In recent years it has also opened its gates to children with its Saturday morning club.
Mr Blythe, a joiner by trade who also had a Bachelor in Arts, Bachelor in science and social care and masters in business administration, died on Friday at his home in Langford Drive, Boldon, following a stroke. He was 59.
His wife of 36 years, Margaret, said: “John was a very unassuming man, he didn’t like fuss or being the centre of attention. He was a family man who was idolised by his grandchildren Nathan, Boudica and Brendon.
“But he was also a very educated man who could have had a much higher paid job if he had wanted, but he had a passion for the day services and for the people it provides for.”
“He was very much focused on the service users and the staff.
“He used to push them and nurture them to achieve their best. We’ve had people saying they wouldn’t be doing what they are doing now if it hadn’t been for John which is nice.”
Saturday nights were dedicated to looking after his three grandchildren who he would spend time with doing crafts and taking out on bike rides.
His daughter Victoria said: “Dad was very much a go to kind of guy. If you had any problem he would be the one people would go to, he had a solution to everything and if he didn’t have one straight away he would have one by the end of the day.
“Even going through what he went through towards the end he was just unbelievably brave.”
Mr Blythe, a Tottenham and Newcastle supporter, was well-known for his love of telling stories, drawing people in as he spoke only to catch them out when he revealed a punchline at the end.
His son Jonathan said: “He was the most selfless man. He didn’t have a bad bone in his body, he was the kind of person who would always give you his last. We had no idea until now just how many lives he had touched.”
Project manager at Holder House Chris Convery who worked closely with John on building up the scheme said: “Everyone at the Holder House project has been left devastated by John’s death. Everyone here loved John, he was just one of a kind.
“He just had so much passion to see the service users do well and if it wasn’t for his drive or vision Holder House project would not be the success it is now.
“He is going to be a huge miss to everyone, both services users and staff, at the project.”
A service for Mr Blythe will take place on Monday at South Shields Crematorium at 11am.