Sir John Cockburn on 24 Hours in A&E: Channel 4 revisits wine merchant's story

24 Hours in A&E is taking a trip down memory lane this summer, revisiting some of their most memorable and moving cases.

One of the most talked-about patients of the entire series was Sir John Cockburn, a British wine merchant and a member of the landed gentry. Sir John was admitted as a patient at St George’s Hospital in Tooting back in 2015.

Last night (Tuesday, July 14th), Channel 4 revisited Sir John’s case in their special retrospective. Although many remembered the five-year-old case well, Sir John’s story was also new for some viewers. We thought we’d revisit Sir John’s case to see how it all went down in 24 Hours in A&E.

Screenshot: 24 Hours in A&E 14/07/2020 – 4oD

Who was Sir John Cockburn?

Sir John Cockburn of Ormiston became the 12th Baronet of that Ilk in 1949, when he was just 23 years old. This means Sir John was born in 1926, and was raised in Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire.

Despite the fact John Cockburn had a title, he did not inherit any seat or money from his family; it went to one of his cousins. Instead, Sir John focussed on becoming a tradesman, initially working as a fishmonger, corn-seed salesman, then a wine representative for Averys of Bristol and Berry Brothers in London. It was working for these two latter companies which inspired Sir John to found his own business as a wine merchant. It was called Cellar Management.

Sir John Cockburn was married to Glory Mullings and the couple had five children: Charles, James, Julia, Catherine, and Jonathan. Glory Mullings passed away in 2011 while Sir John passed in 2015, aged 89.

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Sir John on 24 Hours in A&E

Sir John Cockburn was admitted to St George’s with a “triple A,” which in medical terms means an abdominal aortic aneurysm. He was found at home in a collapsed state by his youngest son Jonathan and Jonathan’s wife. Jonathan was the only one of Sir John’s five children who was in London at the time of the medical crisis.

Jonathan explained speaking to his father and asking “are you alright?” To which Sir John replied: “No, I’m feeling a little bit unwell, I’m feeling under the weather. I think I’ve eaten something, I’m feeling a bit sick and something’s disagreed with me.”

Jonathan had to make the difficult decision about whether Sir John should undergo a risky surgery. Sir John did not end up having a “triple A” but a twisted bowel. An operation was essential to fix this.

What happened to Sir John?

Tragically, Sir John passed away during his operation.

Not a dry eye was left in the house as Johnathan had to say goodbye to his father at the hospital. Jonathan was keen for his father to have the surgery, explaining that Sir John still had a pep for life and would not want his old age to get in the way of going through with the procedure.

Unfortunately, the doctors could not save Sir John Cockburn and he passed away at St George’s.




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Eve spends her days writing about everything culture-related. From celebrity news to music, film and television, Eve covers all bases. When she’s not writing you can find her making music or mastering the art of homemade pasta.