TRIBUTES have been paid to a former Gazette sports reporter who has died of bowel cancer aged 39.

John Boyman joined the Basingstoke Gazette as a reporter covering the Whitchurch area in 2004, before becoming sports reporter in 2007.

He covered sports news from across the borough for both the newspaper and website, regularly reporting live from Basingstoke Town’s football matches.

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One of his most memorable articles came in September 2014, when Basingstoke Town launched an audacious bid to sign Brazilian star Ronaldinho.

John reported on the club’s attempt to offer the player a contract, with flights to England and accommodation included as part of the package.

Mark Jones was editor of the Gazette when John joined the newspaper and they worked together until 2015.

Mark said: “John was a dear friend and a wonderful man whose loss will be felt by all who were lucky enough to know him.

“I feel fortunate to have known him and to have worked with him for nearly 20 years. I am pleased that I was able to give John a start in journalism. He was a very talented journalist and quickly became a popular and respected local reporter.

“After beginning his career in news, John moved over to report on one of his great passions – sport. He covered various sports but he particularly carved out a reputation for his great coverage of Basingstoke Town FC and Basingstoke Rugby Club. He became a well-known and popular figure with so many people at both clubs.

“John was undoubtedly one of the best sports reporters to work at the Gazette. His enthusiasm for the sports he covered shone through in his writing, and he had that special ability to bring sports matches alive for the audience in print and online.

“After leaving the Gazette, I was fortunate to work with John again at HHFT, where it was great to see him make a significant and positive impact as his career developed in a new direction.

“Above all, John was a devoted family man, and my thoughts and condolences are with his wife Helen, his sons Zac and Thom, and his wider family.”

John, a father-of-two, left the Gazette to join Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in 2015, working his way up to become head of public relations.

Paying tribute to John, Alex Whitfield, chief executive of the trust, described him as a “much-loved member of our communications team”.

She added: “His loss is felt by everyone here at Hampshire Hospitals. On behalf of all of our staff, I want to offer my heartfelt condolences and thoughts to John’s wife Helen, and his entire family.

“John joined the trust in 2015 after a successful career in journalism and quickly became well known for his calm manner, his steadfast support for his team and his great skill in handling the varied tasks that made up his role.

"Most recently, he planned, led, and implemented the formal engagement that is so vital to the future of the new hospital programme. This, together with his exceptional leadership during the unparalleled challenges of the pandemic, mean that I can safely say that his loss will be profoundly felt both across the trust and our local health system.

“A trusted colleague with extraordinary instincts, John was also known for his sense of humour. As such, it would be remiss of me not to note his unfailing willingness to pose topless in support of the annual flu vaccination campaign. It is an act he performed once again earlier this year as part of the COVID-19 vaccine drive. In his words: back by popular demand.

“Away from work, John had, in order, two passions: his family and sport. A dedicated family man, his colleagues regularly got to hear all about the adventures and antics of his sons Zac and Thom. A committed Chelsea fan, John was also a regular at Aldershot Football Club and diligently ran the HHFT fantasy football league each and every year.

“John was a huge part of HHFT and we will all miss him so much.”

Before his death, John was sent a personal message from professional golfer Justin Rose, whose career highlights he covered during his time at the Gazette.

In a video message to John, Justin said: “I have fun memories of the day you came to Wentworth and presented me with the Basingstoke Gazette Sportsman of the Year and I want to thank you again for that opportunity. Really thinking of you guys and sending all my love.”

Meanwhile, interim chairman of Basingstoke Town FC, Jack Miller, said in a statement: "I considered John a friend, he always made time for our fans and became a big part of the club.

"His reporting became a big feature of the back pages of the Gazette thanks to his brilliant coverage and made a huge difference to supporters and locals who were unable to get to games, particularly the away days.

"It’s a sad day and we send our love to his family and friends.”

John died at his home in Aldershot on September 30 and leaves behind his wife Helen and two sons Zac, five, and Thom, three.

A fundraising page has been set up for donations to be made in John’s memory to the Bobby Moore Fund or Bucket List Wishes.

Bucket List Wishes arranged a special day for John and his family before he died, themed around trains for his train loving sons.

The charity set up ride-on trains, train tracks and balloons in the shape of a train at John’s parents house, for him to enjoy with his family.

Helen said she hopes to raise money for the charity in John’s memory, to help fulfil another dying person’s wish.

To donate visit