FRIDAY sees the funeral in Sydney of 'Manager to the Stars' John Fordham, whose extraordinary career began 57 years ago as a Newcastle Sun afternoon newspaper cadet journalist.
Mr Fordham died at the age of 75 at the Hospice of the Sacred Heart, Darlinghurst, after a three-year battle with head and neck cancer.
He is survived by his wife of 40 years Veronica, his artist daughter Sarah, elder son, Sydney radio 2GB Drive and Nine TV panellist Ben, and second son Nick, who is now owner and CEO of the family media relations and celebrity management company.
Mr Fordham died last Sunday morning surrounded by his family and after being visited on the previous day by long-time friends Andrew Johns, Ian Chappell, John Laws and Alan Jones.
The funeral will take place today at 12pm at St Francis of Assisi Church, 457-459 Oxford Street, Paddington, and the Fordham family has asked that, in lieu of floral tributes, donations be made to headandneckfoundation.com.au.
A Marist Brothers Hamilton old boy and a passionate rugby and Merewether Carlton Club man, 'Fordo' was renowned as one of Sydney's top-level movers and shakers and great facilitators.
After his time as a Newcastle Sun sports reporter Mr Fordham joined Qantas public relations and served for six years as the airline's US-based media manager for America, Canada and South America.
On their return to Australia 30 years ago, he and Veronica founded the eponymic The Fordham Company, which went on to win such media relations clients as Continental Airlines, The Ritz Hotel London and Cunard Line. Its celebrity management client list has included such names as Andrew Johns, Ricky Stuart, Ian Chappell, Richie Benaud, Mark Taylor, Lisa Wilkinson, Peter FitzSimons John Laws, Alan Jones, Steve Liebmann, Tracey Grimshaw and Craig Bellamy.
The company maintained strong Newcastle and Hunter Valley links and has acted as public relations consultant for wine producers including the Hunter-based Wyndham Estate and McGuigan brands.
Mr Fordham also spent 38 years as a wine critic - at first acting as ghost writer of the newspaper wine column of Sydney wine and food celebrity Johnnie Walker and later taking over the column under his own name after Mr Walker's death.
Mr Fordham's 'Newcastle boy makes very good' story switched into a devastating chapter in 2017 when he was diagnosed with head and neck cancer, which was followed by an intensive program of radiotherapy under a Prince of Wales Hospital team headed by Professor Thomas Havas.
Emerging last year with an apparently successful recovery, he decided he needed to repay 'the brilliant doctors' who cared for him.
The Great Facilitator joined doctors in setting up the Head and Neck Cancer Foundation, with a team of cancer specialists chaired by the Professor Havas.
The aim has been to increase awareness of head and neck cancer and to stress the importance of early intervention and to provide much-needed funding for research.
To provide some of that money, Mr Fordham used his long association with wine writing and friendships in the industry to establish a fund-raising Critic's Choice wine brand, backed by Cellarmasters and the McGuigan wine company and with labels designed by his daughter Sarah.
The wines' first release raised more than $66,000 for the foundation.
This and his other charity work and services to the media and sport last Saturday brought him an early award as a Member of the Order of Australia.
Learning that Mr Fordham was near death, the Governor-General David Hurley agreed to bring forward the award announcement which normally would have been made next Australia Day.
Mr Fordham was part of a sports-mad Hamilton family and, although he lost an eye in a childhood accident at the age of four, he was a fierce competitor in cricket and tennis and was a member of a minor-grade premiership-winning Merewether Carlton rugby team.
His elder brother Bob is a former international rugby referee and Australian Rugby executive director from 1988 to 1993.
His younger brother David, who died from cancer in 2011, was a top-class cricketer in Newcastle and dubbed 'Dasher' for his big hitting.
He later became a much-admired sporting commentator at NBN Newcastle and the 10 and Seven TV networks in Brisbane.