A FATHER who was murdered while on a dream family holiday to Spain has been described as a “gentle giant”.
Acupuncturist and charity worker John Pender, 53, from Shankill in County Dublin had been looking forward to the trip to Fuengirola for with his wife Caroline McGuigan, founder of Suicide Or Survive, and their two children Conor, 21, and Amy, 18.
Mr Pender had been out with his wife and their two best friends at Pogs Old Irish Rock Pub when he was stabbed by a British man with a broken bottle in the neck in the men’s toilets in the early hours of Friday morning, the 21st.
The group of 12 – four adults and eight teens – were less than 48 hours into their 10 day getaway when the tragedy struck.
A neighbour who has lived next to the Pender family for the past 17 years told reporters: “He said to me before he left, ‘We’ll have great craic with the kids now that they are a bit older.’ He couldn’t wait, they were his pride and joy.
we are very lucky to have known him
“They are in an awful state, so are the rest of us, I can’t believe it. Everyone is shell-shocked.”
The neighbour continued: “He was a fantastic, friendly man. A gentle giant. He wouldn’t hurt a fly. He’d do anything for you. I could knock for him morning, noon and night for anything at all.
“If the weather was bad, he would often knock in here to see if I needed anything in the shop, milk or anything, or if I needed a lift anywhere.
“He was a great neighbour, we are very lucky to have known him. You couldn’t ask for better.”
Another neighbour, who has lived near the family for the past 25 years, said: “No matter where you met John he stood to have a chat with you, usually on his way down to the beach.
“He would never bypass you, that was the sort of man he was. Always smiling and pleasant to everyone he met.
pillar of the community, very popular, and very much loved
“He and Caroline are pillars of the community, very popular, and very much loved, they have done so much for [mental health] charity, he would cycle to raise money and awareness for Caroline’s charity.”
A third neighbour said: “He was very calm and gentle. A happy-go-lucky man. Nothing but a gentleman. It is always the wrong ones who are taken.”
Friends of the couple also took to social media to pay their tributes to the family man for their “devastating loss”.
One wrote: “My mind can’t actually fathom the news, heartbroken for you all.”
A celebration of Mr Pender’s life will take place at the ballroom of the Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel, Killiney Hill Road, on Saturday, June 29th, at 11am.