When local man John Merill passed away suddenly, aged just 42, in September 2022, his devoted family and friends felt an understandably huge sense of loss. This family-orientated man, who had worked for over two decades as a civil engineer for both Merseyrail and Merseytravel, had just set up his own business in the same field, VP Civils, and was blissfully happy with his partner, Leanne.


A talented footballer, John attended Cardinal Heenan High School in West Derby and played with the same group of friends outside of school from the age of 8. It is this team who have now banded together to set up a foundation to honour their friend’s memory, and also to raise vital funds and resources for local mental health charities, community groups and amateur football teams.


After organising some unofficial events to commemorate John since last September, his close pals decided to do something more official, and on Thursday March 2nd will launch their first official Mez Foundation #16 event, inspired by the Coggins Challenge, which involves participants following the 4 x 4 x 48 pattern, running and/or walking 4 miles, every 4 hours, for 48 hours. The foundation’s members will be completing their challenge in the city centre, but welcome anyone who wishes to get involved, wherever they are located.


John’s close friend, James Vaughan, also spokesperson for The Mez Foundation #16, explains: ‘John and his core group of friends, including myself, have been playing football together since we were in primary school, and we still do to this day: we enjoy being part of an award-winning amateur team which has been established now for over three decades. John helped to set up and run Home Bargains FC during that time, which I know he was really proud of.


John lived and breathed football, and as a group of mates, we felt a huge sense of loss when he left us so suddenly. His funeral was attended by over 450 people, he was such a well-liked and fun-loving fella, and our hearts continue to go out to his fantastic family and wonderful girlfriend, Leanne.. 


Our friend was such an active person, and also was involved in fundraising himself, so as a group we sat down and wanted to work out how we could best honour John – setting up a foundation seemed like the natural next step for us. John was the type of easy-going person who fitted in everywhere, and so we also wanted to create events anyone could join in with which would be right up his own street – challenging, but with the scope for plenty of laughs and camaraderie.


The first event for The Mez Foundation #16 next week is going to be exactly as described – a challenge. But as a group of friends we do like to stay fit and active, so we thought we would have an event which John would be first to sign up to. Ann Chambers the Managing Director of iStay Liverpool has kindly offered us somewhere to rest at one of her prestigious apart-hotels in the city centre, which we are delighted with. We really appreciate the support which has already come our way.


We also have some upcoming events planned, which we will be covering on our socials. We are really lucky that a local print company, Kingfisher Print and Design, based in Knowsley, have created our official t-shirts for the first Challenge, which will hopefully be more widely available to anyone who wants to get involved. We have a trip to Kilimanjaro planned for April, with some charity football matches in the diary over the summer. These will just be the beginning of our schedule for The Mez Foundation #16.


John was really supportive of grassroots football, and so it is really important to us as a group to raise funds for this vital area of sport – we know from our own experiences it is not just about sport and fitness. We have built a friendship group through our team which has lasted from childhood years and will hopefully last as long as we are all here, and longer! Those of us with children and younger relatives have enjoyed getting them involved, too.


One thing we have come to understand since losing John is the loss we all feel, and sometimes cannot put into words. Grief is a process we all deal with differently, but we have also come to appreciate that bonding together, keeping in touch, talking about John and planning meaningful events has helped us all – this is why it is also important for us to contribute to local mental health charities in the future.


We may also belong to one team, but we also get that our local communities need as much assistance as they can get right now. So we will be determined to help them, too.


Anyone out there who would like to contribute any of their skills on a voluntary basis is welcome to get in touch via our socials, and can also offer a small financial contribution if they would like to via our dedicated Just Giving page.


Liverpool is a city known for its generosity and compassion, and of course, being a place which also holds football close to its warm, beating heart, we know that our community will support us. 


We consider it a privilege to honour our brilliant mate, John. We know he will be cheering us on, and as group we will work hard to ensure his memory is treasured as a group of friends, and now through The Mez Foundation #16.’


You can donate directly to The Mez Foundation #16 here:




For further information about Mez Foundation #16 reference their socials at: