East London football club will dedicate game to Stoke Newington supporter who left them £150,000

John Burnam

John Burnam - Credit: Archant

A football club will be dedicating their home game this Saturday in memory of a man who left them a huge donation.

John Burnam, who was born in Stoke Newington but lived in Woodford at the time of his death, left £150,000 to Leyton Orient Football club in his will after he lost his three-year battle with bowel cancer in May.

To mark his generosity, the club will dedicate the match day programme to him, fans plan to chant his name at the game and the supporter’s club will donate a brick with his name to the memorial wall.

Orient chairperson Barry Hearn said: “This is a wonderful gesture from John who was by all accounts a remarkable man. He was a true Orient supporter and we will be celebrating his life on Saturday, while the significant money he has left will ensure that his legacy lives on and the club he so passionately supported can live on and continue to grow.”

The 55-year-old season ticket holder was said to be a “die-hard” fan of the club according to good friend Steve Rutland, who he had known for 25 to 30 years.

Mr Rutland, 55, of Romford, Essex, said: “We went to home and away games all the time during the season. We used to go to all the away games together all over the country in obscure places such as Rochdale. He was a die-hard fan. When he was wearing a colostomy bag, he would still go. Towards the end, he lost so much weight but would still go.”

“He told me while he was in hospital having an operation that he was going to leave some money to the club. Football was just one of the loves of his life. In his later years, it was one of the only enjoyments. In leaving the money to the club, he’s also giving it back to the supporters as the club can spend the money on a good player.”

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Mr Rutland said that Mr Burnam had no close relatives. He was an only child whose parents had died before him and had never married.

Mr Rutland said: “The only living relative was a man from Colchester who was in his eighties who we met at the funeral and told us he was his uncle.”

Although the former railway signal man left his job a few years ago and was said to be “quite poor”, he inherited the family home in Chingford from his mum and some property from an aunt from the Isle of Wight.

Mr Burnam was said to be a huge Monty Python fan and a “nice guy” who was “a laugh”. Both he and Mr Rutland used to drink regularly in Shoreditch. Mr Rutland said that Mr Burnam “arranged his own funeral” at the City of London Crematorium before he died. He laid on food and drink at the crematorium for friends as well as organising a separate event at a pub.