Yesterday hundreds of his family and friends attended John Rizzo's funeral service in St Mary's Church in Stow Hill Newport.
John had a full great life. A skilled versatile builder, Newport County's number one fan, enthusisatic worker for the Labour Party, staunch Roman Catholic, Newport City nationalist, flyer of flags, collector of roads signs and above all else a great family man.
I owe him a great personal debt of gratitude.
In 1987 I had a struggle to establish my parliamentary candidature against a sitting Tory MP. A striking visible presence was essential. Agent David Mayer designed giant posters and banners. John provided the skill and muscle to erect them on suitable buildings. It was said, at yesterday's funeral, that John persuaded dozens of Labour supporters that the only way to keep Newport West a Tory free-zone was to erect giant banners proclaiming the name Paul Flynn. It worked. I scraped home unseating a popular Tory. John has been a life support machine for every election since then.
The flagpole in John's Preston Avenue front garden was a barometer of the mood of Newport City.
He frequently flew a European flag. Born in Malta, he was an enthusistic Euro-phobe. He had flags of many other nations. The Welsh flag was his second favourite displayed on all sporting occasions when Wales was involved. Many times I took unnecessary detours down his road to check on the day's flag so I could discover the hot topic of the day. One of the happiest day's of John's life was the day Newport played at Wembley to gain promotion. He shared the joy with thousands of others who had supported the County through good and difficult times.
He had been raised in the Pillgwenlly area of Newport. In Bolt Street, I believe. Much of Pill has been redeveloped and John collected the discarded street names which he proudly displayed on his garden wall. He had assembled a unique slice of Newport's lost history. Eventually he put the signs to good use and auctioned them off for a favourite charity.
John had suffered serious illness in recent years. There was a sad sombre mood at his funeral tempered by the knowledge of suffering ended. His wonderful wife Gwyneth and family exchanged loving memories of this marvellous man. All who knew him celebrated the satisfying life of love, work and friendship that he had enjoyed.
Rest in Peace, Comrade.