SOUTHAMPTON’S stalwart town crier has lost his battle against cancer aged 71 after a decade calling out proclamations.

The funeral of John Melody from Shirley takes place on tomorrow(May 14) after months fighting throat cancer leaving a widow Pauline, two children and three grandchildren.

Pauline, of Burgess Road, Shirley, said her husband of42 years adored his role as town crier.

She said: “He loved the pomp and ceremony, he loved the pageantry and he would work a crowd of hundreds, he knew how to get them going.

“He was a people’s person and people related to him.”

John, she said, also raised money for deprived and vulnerable people in Hampshire for decades, partly because of his own experience of growing up in poverty near Warrington.

Those benefiting from charity works included, St Dismas, Nazareth House and St James Shelter for the homeless plus the soup run.

He was also a devoted Catholic, attending Park Place Pastoral Centre, Wickham.

From age 18 he was a monk, teaching as a brother at St Mary’s College, teaching English, geography and French.

He also lectured at Southampton City College.

But he was best known for his role as city town crier. He took up the post of the city’s master of ceremonies after winning a competition at the Bargate in 2004.

He had to write and deliver a cry on a subject of their choice and deliver a short proclamation to read, with five minutes’ notice, on the subject of Southampton's 40th birthday.

His 104-decibel cry broke the instrument brought in to measure the volume achieved by each of the contestants.

Pauline said: “Yet when you were talking to him he had a very quiet voice – I suppose as a teacher he could raise his voice.”

Last July he postponed his own chemotherapy treatment to take part in Race For Life on The Common helping to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for cancer research.

He last performed his role as town crier was at the Winchester Santa Dash last Christmas while he was very ill.

“He gone so thin, but he was so determined. When he finished it we had to carry him,” said Pauline.

Friends, family and community leaders are expected to be at his funeral tomorrow at Park Place Pastoral Centre in Winchester Road, Wickham at 1.30pm.

Mourners are asked not to leave flowers but to make donations to Cancer Research UK, c/o Henry Powell and Son Funeral Directors, 11/13 Eling Lane, Totton SO40 9GB.