When I was younger I was always performing and Grandad used to say: “You’ll be on Emmerdale one day.” I was pretty nosy too, so television journalism suited me down to a tee and it was a happy coincidence that I became a reporter for ITV Calendar, just next door to the Emmerdale studios.
Having my professional and personal life collide in this way is a strange experience, but it gives me the unique opportunity to share with the world what Grandad meant to me and to our close family.
Over the years he met, worked with, and befriended a remarkable number of people and we are overwhelmed by the many thousands of messages we have had from across the UK and Ireland describing what Jack meant to them.
Many remember him as a straight-talking, gregarious character with a mischievous glint in his eye. At his core he was also a proud, protective, generous, and deeply loving family man.
He was a devoted husband to my wonderful Grandma Pat for 62 years and a much-adored father to John, my mum Debbie, and Peter.
They will forever remember him as a warm, supportive father, who also revelled in winding them up at every opportunity – a character trait that many of us inherited!
The next generation - my siblings, Christopher, Kate and Tom and my cousins John, Niamh, Roisin and Dylan have all been extremely lucky to have such a fun-loving and kind person in our lives. Our annual Christmas performances in the Charlton living room will not be the same without him in the audience.
I have particularly fond memories of Grandad’s unconventional fishing lessons when I was a child. He was less than impressed at the number of times I managed to cast the line into the tree behind me or my refusal to ever actually pick up the fish. The image of us in matching green overalls, fishing rods in hand, is one I still hold dear.
I will also treasure the image of him playing with my two children, Max and Evie, with the same cheeky grin and infectious laugh that he had when he played with me years ago.
In many ways, Grandad has led a very atypical life. But to us he has only ever been Grandad. A man who mastered international football management but could never operate the television remote. And a man who held his grandchildren back from the road before they looked both ways, whether they were four or twenty-four.
Grandad always made time for people he met – no photograph or autograph was ever too much trouble. It is clear from the outpouring of love and sharing of fond memories that he made a mark on many lives across the world and nowhere more so than Ireland – a nation he loved and that loved him.
He was a thoroughly honest and genuine person and we will forever be proud of his extraordinary life.