I wanted to create something positive in memory of John
After her husband of 26 years died from a brain tumour, Laura King decided to create a long-lasting legacy in his name
A tribute to a husband who died from a brain tumour
Laura King, 58, owns King’s Fine Food, the uK’s biggest supplier of caviar. she lives in walton-onThames with her 23-year old daughter, Holly, and 18-year old son, Harry, and has a grown-up stepdaughter, gemma, and stepson, gareth, from John’s first marriage. Her husband, the chef John King, was 65 when he died of a brain tumour last november. Throughout his illness, John was treated at the atkinson Morley wing of st george’s Hospital in London, and Laura has since founded the John King Brain Tumour Foundation to raise money for research, equipment and a beautiful garden for patients.
John was a really big character: tall, funny, warm, generous, kind – and very attractive. i know it’s a cliché but he was my rock. we had to remortgage to start the business, but John supported me absolutely. He was an exceptional man.
John was very fit, a keen golfer and ran the marathon a few years ago. But then he started missing his step. one day after a golf tournament with friends, i got a call to say he’d fallen and been taken to hospital. As i arrived, he was rushed to the resuscitation unit after two seizures and put on a life support machine.
it took doctors a couple of days to work out what was going on. tim Jones, the lead surgeon, told us he was 99.9% sure that John had a glioblastoma brain tumour. i remember him saying, “with tumours like this, the average life expectancy is 15 months.”
i didn’t fall to pieces because, where there’s life, there’s hope. John was always very positive. we put all our trust in tim and had absolute faith in him.
we aren’t particularly religious but when we knew John was going to die, we went to see our vicar. i didn’t want someone who didn’t know us doing John’s funeral. the vicar said, “you can’t cheat death; we are all going to die. what you have is a blessing – time together to enjoy.” And that was how we viewed it.
John had an operation to remove the tumour, and the day after surgery, he cooked breakfast for 12 of our son’s friends. we only once sat at the end of the garden and cried. we were talking about the children, that he wouldn’t see his grandchildren; that’s when it hit home.
At Atkinson Morley, a garden created by former neurosurgeon Henry Marsh had become neglected. it’s a small thing, but having a garden to go to as respite from a ward makes a huge difference to people’s lives. we spent two weekends planting and painting the chairs.
we’d decided as a family that when things got really bad, John would move to a hospice. But one night he had another seizure at home; medics tried to resuscitate him, but couldn’t.
what helps is keeping busy. i also want to make a difference, which is why i started the Foundation. Brain tumours are an underfunded cancer, partly because the prognosis is so bad, but if we don’t put money into research, we will never achieve progress. the Foundation is a really positive legacy for John. johnkingbraintumourfoundation.co.uk
John finds solace in his and Laura’s beautiful garden