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Phuket bar owner John Kerr, who wore a helmet but died in a freak crash

Popular Phuket Bar Owner Killed in Freak Crash

Sunday, May 9, 2010
THE FUNERAL is being held this afternoon for a popular Phuket bar owner who died in a freak motorcycle crash earlier this week.

Scores of expats and Thais are expected to turn out at Patong temple this afternoon to mourn John Grant Kerr, 53, who ran the Anzac Bar in Patong's OTOP complex on Rat-U-Thit-200-Pi Road.

A New Zealander by birth, Mr Grant spent most of his working life in Australia and was a good friend to many other local bar owners.

Australian Neil Cheyne, 60, who runs the neighboring Lilly's Bar, marked the two nation's Anzac Day celebrations jointly with Mr Kerr and their customers late last month. The Anzac celebrations are generally regarded as the most significant for both countries.

''It was a freak thing,'' Mr Cheyne told Phuketwan before heading to today's funeral. ''John always wore a helmet, and he always rode slowly. It happened at 7.15am on Monday morning.

''He was just a couple of hundred metres from home when he swerved to avoid another vehicle. He hit the raised footpath on the bridge near the new Honda centre in south Patong.''

Mr Kerr's neck snapped and he is believed to have died instantly.He was giving a ride home to a Thai woman, who suffered only gravel rash.

''John's brother is here,'' Mr Cheyne said. ''He came from South America. The future of the Anzac bar will be decided sometime after the funeral.''

Mr Cheyne described Mr Kerr as ''a very good friend. We had bars opposite each other, so we got to know each other well. John was well-liked by a cross-section of the expats here, especially the Australians, and a lot of Thais as well.''

The New Zealand Herald newspaper reported that Mr Kerr had been on Phuket during the 2004 tsunami and returned later to open the Kiwi Bar, followed by the Anzac Bar.

Other Phuket bar owners echoed Mr Cheyne's views on Mr Kerr. Steve Wood, who runs the Aussie Bar in Patong's popular Soi Bangla, said: ''John had a lot of friends here and I don't know anyone who didn't like him.''

Almost 12 months ago to the day, all of Patong was talking about the beer mat incident at the Aussie Bar when Australian tourist and mother of four Annice Smoel was accused of theft. Media coverage in Australia led to top-level political intervention and Mrs Smoel's fine being paid by the Governor of Phuket, Wichai Praisa-ngob.

This year, the main topic of conversation is the sad death of John Kerr, and the many other needless deaths of expats and Thais while riding motorcycles.

The toll in lives and injuries is large, and constantly growing. Mr Cheyne said: ''I've been liaising with the New Zealand Embassy about the arrangements for John, and the chap there said most of his job involved motorcycle deaths or taking care of people who had been injured.''

Mr Kerr's sister Marlene Foley told the New Zealand Herald that her brother bought the Kiwi Bar in 2005 and renamed it Anzac Bar in 2007. The former Aucklander was in Phuket with friends when the tsunami hit the island in 2004 and moved there a year later.

Mrs Foley said her brother was a keen traveller and a ''fun-loving and caring person''. ''His nieces and nephews call him the 'fun uncle,''' she said. ''It has blown me away at the number of people that knew and loved John.''

Family and friends travelled to Phuket for today's funeral. Some of his ashes will be scattered on Phuket and the rest will be taken to New Zealand for a family farewell.

Phuketwan supports the Mothers or Motorcycles (MoM) action group, which aims to increase rider awareness and reduce needless deaths and injuries.

Facebook farewell messages for Mr Kerr include:

Lisa Ayson John, a truly amazing man! You will be missed, thank you for opening up your heart and showing us the most amazing time in Phuket in both 2007 and again only five short weeks ago. You were our friend and smiling host, Phuket will not be the same without you. RIP our friend - Lots of love, Lisa & Glen

Marlene Foley John is lying at the Temple right now. Family and friends are there with him. Cremation for John is on Sunday. Thank you everyone for your support. my love to the girls at the bar who are looking after John. Wayne, Glenda, Graham, Alan and I thank all of you for being John's friend.

Olivia Bayley RIP John, Thank you for making our stay in Thailand so amazing, you and the girls looked after us, and we couldn't thank you enough. You are going to be missed by so many people, and you touched the hearts of so many people in such a short time! You are such a generous and amazing person! You will be sadly missed by so many people!

Nicola Foley RIP Uncle John xxx
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Comments

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R I P John.

Posted by Graham on May 9, 2010 15:15

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RIP - JK

Posted by Jingjoe on May 10, 2010 14:47

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RIP john you were a wonderful man and you will be missed by all the hearts of people you have meet on all your travels round the place. But i'll never forget the time u took me and my partner when no-one else would. I will never forget u!

Posted by Lorrina Brown on May 12, 2010 12:48

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A Huge loss to our familes R.I.P John
xoxoxo

Posted by Glenda Kerr-Butler on May 13, 2010 14:23

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i didn't know you but my daughter did, she was there on anzac day and is heartbroken. So am i as i have been to phuket and they are the most beautiful people, kind and sharing i feel for everyone and are thinking of the legend John was and always will be in thailand. All the memories at the anzac bar and can only hope there are positives out of this tragedy for his staff/family at this sad time

Posted by Anonymous on May 14, 2010 21:39

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Our thoughts and respects go to John, his family, the girls at the bar and the close friends he had.

Posted by THai on May 17, 2010 15:13

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We were saddened to hear about the passing of John whom we met in April and was so friendly, not to forget his staff and his mates. He gave us so many tips and made our stay in Phuket a holiday to remember. We spent the morning of Anzac day at the bar, before flying out. John, our photos will be treasured. you were a real gentleman. a very sad loss. cheers, mate

Posted by Rob & Sharon Reidy on June 6, 2010 07:56

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To John's team . . . he will be sadly missed - we feel deep sadness in our hearts with what has happened - he is a good mate, areal good friend. Chok dee John - we will always remember your friendship.

Posted by M to Z and Annie on October 14, 2011 20:32

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am gutted went there 2008 went back 2009 what a lovely man legend all the way from Liverpool England he made my holiday gutted boss with all the girls

Posted by Anonymous on March 15, 2015 07:06


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