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Plan to honour volunteer who transformed church garden

Being Michael'd: Michael Conlon loved vintage cars and gardening - and a good chat

22 January, 2018 — By Dan Carrier

Michael Conlon with one of his vintage cars

FRIENDS of a man who gave up his time to transform a church garden are raising money to plant a rose garden in his memory.

Michael Conlon was a familiar face around St Mary’s Brookfield Church in Dartmouth Park, where he was often seen carefully polishing his orange Citroen Dyan, a vintage car which he knew as “Peachy” due to its eye-catching paint job. He had worked tirelessly as a volunteer to transform scrubs in the church garden into a picturesque spot, before passing away shortly before Christmas, aged 59.

Father Guy Pope, who retired as vicar at the church last year, said no one asked Michael for his help, he just appeared one day and got started. “He came up and started tidying up the church yard. It absolutely transformed the area and people were enormously grateful,” said Father Guy. “He is hugely missed. He really contributed to our community in a very special way.” Mr Conlon had loved gardening, classic cars – Morris Minors and old Citroens – and The Beatles.

He worked in a Fab Four tribute band in northern France, where he lived for many years with his partner, Colin, a successful theatre producer. The couple returned to England around five years ago and Mr Conlon earned a living as a handyman and gardener for others, but he would still travel back to France regularly to sing with his band.

He later fell ill with throat cancer, meaning he could only speak with the help of a voicebox, but friends said he was stoic about it and would entertain children by showing them how his voice aid worked. In fact his love of a chat meant he would stop people in the street and talk at length on the topic that interested him that day – a process friends affectionately called “being Michael’d”.

He was well known in the Boston Arms pub, where he would watch football – he was a Manchester United supporter – and in cafés such as Moonlight and the Spaghetti House . To contact fundraisers for the Michael Conlon memorial, email dcarrier@camdennew

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