Stars turn out for former hotel manager

Jimmy Johnston.
Jimmy Johnston.

Jimmy Johnston, a former manager of the Seagoe Hotel in Portadown, has died in the Ulster Hospital after an illness.

The 77-year-old was also a former showband leader and highly successful entertainment promoter.

Jimmy Johnston successfully managed the Seagoe Hotel for 11 years during the 1980s and early 1990s and he was a popular figure in Portadown, particularly in the running of dances and shows at the hotel.

Jimmy, who lived in Comber, was front man with the Jimmy Johnston showband for more than a decade in the 1960s and early 1970s. The eight-piece band played at major ballrooms across Northern Ireland and in the Irish Republic and in town, Orange and church halls across the province and made several recordings.

With the advent of the Troubles, the showband industry declined and, after standing his band down, Jimmy went into showbiz agency, working with business partners Trevor Kane and Maurice Beckett, a colleague from the band years, and they brought top British pop and rock groups and singers to Belfast for shows.

After he left the Seagoe Hotel, Jimmy was involved in his Jayco entertainment agency on the country ‘n’ Irish scene, promoting dances and shows in hotels across Northern Ireland. Jimmy was buried on Tuesday, after a service in First Comber Presbyterian Church. The funeral was attended by leading country ‘n’ Irish singers Mike Denver, Jimmy Buckley, Brian Coll, Robert Mizell, Declan Nerney, Crawford Bell, Lisa McHugh and Scottish singer Anne Williamson, as well as promoters and agents in Irish entertainment. In a moving service, Mike Denver sang two gospel pieces, while Declan Nerney gave a rendition of This World Is Not My Home.

Tributes were paid by First Comber minister the Rev Colin Anderson and by showbiz chaplain Father Brian Darcy.

Jimmy is survived by his wife Carol; daughter Yvette, a Belfast journalist, and stepson David.