A song inspired by the memory of an ‘amazing’ man who lived in Sturmer and coached at Haverhill Rugby Club is in the running to become the UK’s Christmas number one single.
Released on December 1, I Wonder Where He Is Now is sung by Gary Chilton, from the best-selling group The Soldiers, who have had two albums that went platinum and another that went gold.
The song is raising money for the charity Help for Heroes, but the lyrics penned by song-writer Adrian Warwick were inspired by the loss of two very close friends, former Sturmer resident Shaun McLeod-Jones and Mark Gibbons.
Shaun and Adrian first became friends while at school together and they remained close until Shaun died of kidney failure at the end of May 2003, just one week after his 40th birthday and almost 15 years to the day since having a kidney transplant.
Adrian, who lives in South Woodham in Essex, said: “Last year I went down to the river.
“I sat down with my pad and thought I want to write a song that will mean something to them both and if they were still here would resonate with them.
“Shaun was the most amazing guy. To be fair there’s so much about Shaun that I could write about.
“He was an absolute gentleman and had a great sense of humour but was very selfless as well.”
A talented rugby player who played for Rosslyn Park and Saffron Walden and was involved in the England youth set up, Shaun lived in Sturmer with his mum, Kate McLeod-Jones, for the last four years of his life.
They moved to Sturmer from Great Dunmow to be nearer the hospital where he received treatment and after the move he continued his passion for rugby by taking up a coaching role at Haverhill RFC.
Shaun had developed problems with his kidneys in his early 20s and underwent a transplant in May 1988 using a kidney that was donated by his mum.
Sadly, the kidney failed and he had to receive dialysis for many years. He also underwent more than 70 operations in ten years, including a triple heart bypass in 1997.
A suitable kidney was never found to enable another transplant and Shaun suffered a gradual deterioration in his health.
Remembering his friend further, Adrian said: “He never moaned about it (his health problems). He was just more interested in you, how you were and how your family were.”
The song is now fourth favourite at 20-1 to be the Christmas best selling single, and Adrian said of it: “It’s a very positive message to what is a very sad situation.”
Shaun was one of six children and has a younger brother that is currently a serving officer in the Parachute Regiment who has toured in Afghanistan, adding more resonance to the release of the song.
Mrs McLeod-Jones said of Shaun: “For the last eight years at least he was in pain every day of his life, but in spite of this, his life was full of fun, joy and laughter.
“He had a wicked sense of humour and his incredible spirit shone through.
“He was the bravest young man I knew, even after so many operations he never complained, He was always so optimistic.
“I have lost not only a son but a dear friend, a confidant, a wise head on young shoulders, and someone so full of love. I miss him so much.”
Mrs Mcleod-Jones, a widow, went on to describe her family’s reaction to the song, saying: “I think the thing that pleased most of us is the fact that Shaun is remembered so well and the fact that he lived the life that he did.
“If anything good comes out of it and if it helps other people that’s good.”