Sheffield Owlerton Stadium boss died after collapsing while walking four-year-old daughter home from school

The managing director of Owlerton Stadium in Sheffield, John Gilburn, died after collapsing in the street while walking his four-year-old daughter home from school.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 02 November, 2018, 13:12

Mr Gilburn died on October 9 at the age of 65 after falling ill while walking his daughter Maisie back to their family home in Thorpe Hesley.

His devoted wife Rochelle, 29, revealed how he died while paying tribute to her husband of almost three years.

John and Rochelle Gilburn, pictured with their children Maisie and Joshua.

Mrs Gilburn said: 'He had been to work as normal during the day. I spoke to him at about 2.40pm as he was just leaving to pick up our little girl from school.

'She's four and had just started in September. He parked the car at home and walked to school to get her. It was on the way back '“ he stopped suddenly and banged his head.

'Maisie was on her own with him for a couple of minutes and then some people who were walking their dog came over and called 999.'

John Gilburn, the former managing director of Owlerton Stadium

Mrs Gilburn said the couple first met while she was working as a waitress at the stadium around nine years ago before getting married in October 2015.

They also have a two-year-old son '“ Joshua '“ together. Mr Gilburn also had three other children '“ Kirstie, Daniel and Steven, five grandchildren and eight step grandchildren.

She said: 'John was very daft. We would go to play centres with the kids and he would be up and down the slide with them and playing all the time.

John Gilburn, pictured with wife Rochelle, on his wedding day. Also pictured are his children Maisie, Kirstie, Steven and Daniel.

'A lot of people didn't realise he was like that because he was quite serious at work.'

Mrs Gilburn, who now works as a marketing executive at Owlerton, said a post-mortem examination had revealed the cause of death as a sudden heart attack.

She said: 'I am coping. It still doesn't feel real and it being so sudden doesn't help with that. Our lives were so close because we worked together and everything I did, from a marketing point of view, went through John to be approved.'

She added: 'Maisie is alright. She talks about him a lot and she keeps wanting to go over what's happened.

John Gilburn, pictured on his wedding day.

'She went straight back to school the next day and we will probably get her some counselling.'

Mr Gilburn a trained accountant, joined Owlerton in October 2007 and had been the mastermind behind plans for a £5 million banqueting and conference suite on the site.

Dave Allen, chairman of A&S Leisure Group, said: 'John will be sorely missed not only at the Stadium, but throughout the company and the industry at large and will be impossible to replace.' 

Mr Gilburn had previously worked as manager of Belle Vue Greyhound Stadium in Manchester and was elected chairman of the Race Course Promoters' Association at the start of this year.

His funeral will take place at Grenoside Crematorium on Wednesday, November 7 from 1pm.

John Gilburn, pictured with children Maisie and Joshua.

Mrs Gilburn said she expected the service to be busy.

John Gilburn, pictured with his wife Rochelle.