Five years after losing his friend in a motorcycle accident, Philip Wright-Lewis has sent this tribute to mark the anniversary.
“I first met Josh Holmes in my second year at Ivy Bank High School. I’d just had a nightmare debut for the school football team and couldn’t wait to get out of the changing room. Not being close with the regulars of the side, it was a shock to be tapped on the shoulder and told ‘well played, mate’, by the keeper.
That was Josh all over. Despite being one of the most popular kids in school, he paid no heed to friendship boundaries. No matter what ‘group’ you were in, Josh always had time for you. In that sense, he was one of a kind – in our year at least. When I found myself studying GCSE German alongside him, he would light up a dull classroom with his humour. Not a class clown; just a great entertainer who would often even have the teacher giggling along.
When we left school and separated to different colleges, Josh would often be out in town at weekends. He didn’t change a bit, and would always bounce over to ask how college was going and what your uni plans were. He was supportive and enthusiastic for you, as well as being positive about his own future. And he had every reason to be: few could boast such a bright outlook as Josh seemed to have on everything.
Losing Josh was a crushing dose of reality just before we went off to university, and the size of his funeral attendance showed the magnitude of that impact.
But the lasting impression of him will not be of any service or memorial. It will be his devious humour, and the friendly face that was always after a chat in those years following school.
For those of us who left Burnley in 2008, there’s always one face missing when everyone returns for Christmas drinks in town. And I’m certain I’m not alone in always raising a glass to the lad who can’t be there.”