Tributes have been flooding in for a ‘fun-loving’ serving police officer and Stoke City fan following his sudden death at the age of 45.
Dad-of-two James Lockett was today described as a ‘Leek legend’ after news of his tragic passing last night spread around his home town and further afield.
He was well-known as the founder of Leek TV where he would regularly update the community when not working shifts with Greater Manchester Police.
Known to many as Locko or Jimmy, he was also heavily involved with non-league football and was a regular at the bet365 Stadium.
The keen runner – who raised money for the Douglas Macmillan Hospice – had been due to take part in the London Marathon this year before it was cancelled by the pandemic.
Instead, he took on the 28-mile Three Wonders of Leek last month – a ramble around Rudyard Lake and Tittesworth Reservoir, a climb up to Roach End and over the Roaches to finish at favourite local the Blue Mugge.
Leek Town manager Neil Baker today led tributes to a ‘phenomenal guy’.
He said: “He was fun-loving and involved in everything. Nobody was quite sure how he managed to fit it all in.
“He just loved football whether it was watching England, Stoke City or Leek Town.
“He was a steward, he was a supporter, he did a bit of everything at the club.
“His death at such a young age is an absolute tragedy, especially leaving behind a young family.
“He will always be remembered in Leek and when the time is right the club will do something in his honour.”
Leek Town chairman Jon Eeles had swapped messages about Leek Town with James just hours before he died.
He said: “The news of Jim’s sudden and untimely passing has devastated everyone at the club, we are heartbroken by the news.
“Our thoughts and condolences go out to his wife Glenys, children Jemma and Joe and his wider family.
“I’d ask everyone to respect their privacy and allow them to grieve at this very distressing time.
“Jim was an extremely popular guy with an infectious and enthusiastic personality, this is a massive loss to the community of Leek and local football generally.
“Jim was involved in all things good and as well as being a massive football fan he ran a Leek Town Ladsandads team, raised money for local charities and ran his own very successful social media channel Leek TV.
“He would juggle his football commitments between Stoke City, Leek Town and England – always trying to watch as many games as he could.
“Over the last few seasons he had become more involved at the club and helped me run the commercial side and took responsibility for much of the social media output.
“At some point the club and the community of Leek will remember and pay tribute to Jim, but only when it is right to do so and in accordance with the family’s wishes.
“A good friend, always happy to help, who has been taken far too early from us – we have lost one of the good guys, we are still struggling to come to terms with this tragic news.”
Leek Cricket Club chairman Brian Mellor added: “He did so much for the town and local sport in particular.
“Football and his family were his life. He’d follow Stoke home and away. How he managed to work as a police officer in the middle of Manchester city centre and do everything else is a wonder.
“He was also exceptionally funny and would do these sketches for Leek TV. I remember one he did when he was chased by cows by Westwood Golf Course. It makes me laugh to think of it now.
“His dad Alan only passed away recently and then to lose Jim so soon is an absolute tragedy.”
Dozens of tributes have been left on social media.
Stoke City women’s player Cassie Hyde said: “Such sad news for us all from our loving little town of leek. We have lost the most down to earth guy who did so much for so many. Life just is not fair sometimes. RIP locko”
In a post on Facebook, Povey’s Oatcakes said: “Sadly the founder of Leek TV has passed away suddenly. We thank him for the help and support he has given Businesses and people in the Staffordshire Moorlands over the years. It means a lot to us. God bless James Lockett.”
Radio personality George Andrews tweeted: “Lovely guy. So sad to hear this news Thoughts with the family.”
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Emergency services had been called to James’ home in Lorien Close, Leek, yesterday evening (November 18) where he was pronounced dead at the scene.
His death is not being treated as suspicious.
A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said: “We were called at 7.57pm on Wednesday evening to reports of a medical emergency at an address in Lorien Close, Leek.
“We sent two ambulances and a paramedic officer to the scene. Upon arrival crews found one patient, a man. Unfortunately, nothing could be done to save him and he was confirmed dead at the scene.”