Yesterday we celebrated the life of James Eardley who passed away last month, aged 38 after battling cancer for over 3 years and I just wanted to say a few things.
I first met James whilst interning at Exposed, about 8 years ago, I’m not really sure what he did there, he was always in and out, juggling several projects on the go but when he was in the office he brought a warm presence.
Whilst he ran a student housing magazine with Exposed he was also selling Vape cases and working at the Students Union. During my first week at Exposed James popped in after an event at the Students Union, where he’d been helping my mom, he’d also worked there with my sister a few years earlier, mad coincidence.
I’d not seen James for a while, he’s never been the easiest to get hold of. After launching The Brew Foundation, a micro brewery with his dad I reconnected with him at a ‘Meet the brewer’ event at Craft & Dough in Kelham, we’d start catching up regularly following this, always with a few beers. He was the one who got me into craft beer.
Once the brewery had gained a reputation he opened the first of his two pubs, converting a former off license into a micro pub. I helped out early on with some online marketing which introduced me to more new and exciting beers. The Ecclesall Ale Club was a huge success from day one, it offered something different to Ecclesall Road but most importantly, it was a project that James and his wife-to-be, Sam worked together on, every element was because of their passion and creativity.
I’d bump into James on Sharrow Vale Road when I was on the Post Office run or at the pub, he always had time for a chat, even when he was super busy running a pub, brewing beer or delivering beer. He couldn’t make my 30th, instead he went out of his way to send over a couple of crates of beer.
It had been a few months since I’d heard from James, this wasn’t uncommon, he was terrible at replying. I bumped into a brewery friend on Ball Street Bridge and he said he’d heard James was poorly, I didn’t really know what to expect so I messaged one of his bar staff and found out it was cancer. Cancer, he’s in his 30’s, it will be fine. James apologised for not telling me (which was ridiculous) and initially it was fine, treatment cured the first lot but it had grown. He was expecting to be on treatment for the rest of his life but that didn’t stop him converting a butchers into The Fulwood Ale Club, his second pub and just a few months ago he was looking into a potential third bar. He was a true fighter.
The last time I saw James was a few weeks before the pandemic, I’d popped into the Ale Club for a beer, he was on his way out, taking his staff for their Christmas Party, whilst he was still having treatment and he made time for a quick chat.
Obviously he’s had to isolate for the majority of the pandemic, a trip to M&S was his treat. I’d check up on him every few months and we planned to catch up for a beer once this was all over. We had that beer yesterday, he might not have physically been there but his upbeat and positive spirit was.
His passing wasn’t a surprise but it was a shock. Every single person I’ve spoke to about James, every tribute yesterday and every comment on Facebook all said the same thing, that he was lovely person. He’ll be missed by lots of people, it’s hard to know what to say to those closest to him but what he really wants is to raise money for Weston Park Cancer Charity (you can donate here) who have been looking after him, visit The Ecclesall Ale Club and The Fulwood Ale Club. Let his legacy continue.
Thanks for reading.