Tributes paid to long-serving Denaby altar boy

John Hurley.
John Hurley.

Tributes have been paid to the country’s longest serving altar boy and former South Yorkshire Times correspondent John Hurley who has died aged 89.

The Denaby-born man was well-respected in the community which he served throughout his life.

He won a medal from former Pope Saint John Paul II in recognition of him serving nearly 80 years as an altar boy at St Albans Church in Denaby Main.

John juggled his job as a hospital porter with the role of district correspondent for the SYT for about 30 years throughout the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

He was also a talented sportsman having played football at semi-professional level for teams including Grimsby Town.

A keen tennis player, he represented Mexborough Athletic Tennis Club and won the South Yorkshire regional title in the 1960s.

John had six children and 20 grandchildren. He died at his home in Conisbrough on Friday, December 18, following a five-year battle with dementia.

His widow Patsy, 79, said: “He was very well-respected in the area and was liked by everyone. He always had a smile on his face.”

Father John Cooke, former parish priest, said John served mass “every day of his life when he possibly could. He often started a hymn at the end of weekday mass and we all dutifully joined in.”

The funeral service takes place at St Albans Church on Friday, January 8, at 12.45pm followed by burial.