THEY called him 'The Guv'nor', a big, broad-shouldered and chirpy-natured Cockney personality who lit up every social gathering with his anecdotes and subtle sense of humour.

John Sines seemed an indestructible character as he flipped the barrels around as landlord, in turn, of three popular St Helens pubs within a square mile of each other - the now-gone Union and the Exchange Vaults at Gerards Bridge, and the Lamb Hotel in Corporation Street.

But now, his old customers, former colleagues in the licensed trade and countless friends throughout the region are mourning his death, at the age of 70.

John, who unbelievably - in view of his commanding stature - began his working life as a stable boy and would-be jockey, arrived in town around 45 years ago.

Born in Tooting, John never lost his lively Cockney personality or the accent that went with it. But he was quickly accepted as an honorary 'Sintelliner' and had a deep affection for his adoptive hometown and the folk who live there.

He came to St Helens as a roofing contractor, and there met his wife Enid (nee Murphy) whom he partnered in the pub business.

Their son Jim (40) is one of the best-known and most-talented chefs in the North, winning accolades and top honours for the High Moor, Standish (which he still jointly owns) and for his present restaurant, Master McGrath's near Southport.

Mr Sines also leaves two grandchildren Holly and Danielle, and a daughter-in-law Trudy.

A funeral service will be held this morning (Thursday, April 23) at St Helens Parish Church at 9.30am followed by burial at the borough cemetery. A reception for all who knew John Sines will be held at the Lamb Hotel from 11am.

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