Published: 16:55, 30 April 2021
| Updated: 17:24, 30 April 2021
A popular window cleaner has died aged 54, sparking thousands of pounds to be donated in his memory.
His lifelong friends Sally McKay and Marnie Hadaway have set up a fundraiser to remember Mr Kitchenham with a memorial bench and also to buy a portable defibrillator for his hockey team, Tonbridge Black Knights, which he had played for, for 15 years and where he had been captain.
Through the fundraising page, they have already raised more than £6,000.
Tonbridge resident Mrs Hadaway, 50, said: "At first, we thought just raising enough to get one or two defibrillators would be fantastic, but it now looks as though we are well on our way to getting six or seven.
“We haven't completely decided where they are going to go but we would like the local hockey community to get together to discuss where is best for them.
“We definitely know one will be going to Hawkenbury, which is where he died and we'd like the club he played for to have a portable one.
“It's quite shocking that these huge recreational grounds, which have so many people going in and out, don't have defibrillators of their own and that's what we want to change.
“We don't know if John's chances would have been any better and we can't think like that, but we want them to be accessible to as many people as possible.
“He had amazing care when he did collapse because somebody there was medically trained.
“Not only do they save lives, they make it easier for first responders.
“The fact that so much money has been raised is humbling and it just shows how much of a fantastic guy he was.
"You don't realise how much a person can touch so many people and we've seen that with the comments to John..."
"We are so grateful to everyone who has donated.”
Marnie, whose husband had been one of Mr Kitchenham’s longest friends, added: “The fact we can do something positive out of the tragedy is all we can ask.”
He worked in window cleaning and property maintenance, and loved being out and about, meeting people.
Mrs McKay, 51, of Tonbridge, also paid tribute to him.
She said: “You don't realise how much a person can touch so many people and we've seen that with the comments to John.
“He was one of the fittest in the group who played hockey several times a week and you don't expect it to happen.
“He had a wicked sense of humour and that is how people will remember him. He was always willing to go the extra mile if anybody needed him.
“Mandy first said she wanted the bench as a place for people to remember John because he had so many friends.
“We want to put it in Tonbridge Park because that's where Mandy and John had lots of lovely lockdown walks and Mandy wanted to have a way to share him with everybody.
“Then, Marnie had the idea of the defibrillators and so we thought we would fundraise for them both.”
As well as playing hockey himself, Mr Kitchenham was also heavily involved at Tunbridge Wells Flyerz, a hockey team for children with physical and learning disabilities.
Mr Kitchenham leaves behind his wife, Mandy, and his 24-year-old son Connor. His funeral will be on Tuesday.
To donate, go to https://bit.ly/3u87GmM.