St Albans Abbey mourns ‘gentle giant’

GLOWING tributes have been paid to the only son of Abbey verger Peter Hudson and his wife Ann who died at the weekend after a short battle against cancer.

Jonathan Hudson, 36, who lived in St Albans from the age of 15 when his parents moved to the city, had been diagnosed with cancer of the neck and head shortly before Christmas but had been told he was likely to make a full recovery.

With his wife Carmen and many friends, he threw himself into raising funds for Maggie’s Cancer Centre at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford where he was being treated. They called it Big Jon’s Big Fight.

Just before Christmas, Carmen and his friends took part in a Santa Fun Run which was hoping to raise �2,500 for the cancer centre and in the event, raised �8,000.

But the aggressive cancer did not respond to treatment and spread quickly, Jonathan had been due to have radiotherapy when he died at the hospital shortly after 6pm on Saturday.

Although he was unconscious when his parents arrived, they and Carmen held his hands and talked to him until he died. Many of his friends were waiting for news in the hospital’s day room at the same time.

A former pupil of Townsend School, Jonathan, who was known as Jon to his friends and had asked his parents if they minded if he called himself that when he was a teenager, went to college in Wycombe and opted for a career in the catering and hospitality trade. He worked at the Grillbar in London Road, St Albans, and at the time of his death, he was development manager for a chain of Chinese restaurants in High Wycombe.

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He was actively involved with the Abbey Youth while living in the city and made lifelong friends there with whom he was still very much in contact when he married Carmen 18 months ago and moved to Marlow in Buckinghamshire.

A dedicated Arsenal fan, he loved sport and because of his height – he was over 6ft 8ins – he was in demand as a basketball player.

He was first diagnosed with cancer in October after developing toothache which was initially put down to his wisdom teeth. But he was referred to Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury where he was told he had a form of carcinoma.

At that stage doctors were confident it was treatable with chemotherapy and he would be fine but although the cancer initially responded to treatment, his condition deteriorated until he found it difficult to eat and talk.

Peter and Ann were called to the hospital last Friday by Carmen where Jonathan was sitting up and able to talk to them.

But the following morning they had another call from their daughter-in-law urging them to get over to the Churchill as soon as possible. Jonathan died just over five hours later.

Ann, who is well-known at the Abbey for her Christmas Knitivity which has delighted hundreds of children, said how lovely it had been for the couple to see the numerous tributes to their son posted by his friends on Facebook. She described him as “caring, gentle and kind” and said that he was summed up by the words Carmen had put on Facebook: “My gentle giant has gone to sleep forever.”

She also thanked their many friends at the Abbey for their “amazing” support and said that while they deferred to Carmen about where she wanted the funeral to be held, they were so pleased that she had opted for the Abbey.

Jonathan’s funeral will be held there at 2pm next Tuesday, February 7, with family flowers and donations invited towards Maggie’s Cancer Centre.