Jim Jones pays tribute to ‘good friend’ Mike Collins

MIKE Collins is presented with a new Yamaha saxophone after fund raising efforts by local musicians. Pictured are organisers Jim Jones, Paul Gates, Mike's brother John, his niece Kelsi, brother-in-law Dave Robertson, son Sam Collins, sister Carol Robertson and (front) Ruby and Kaya Collins.
MIKE Collins is presented with a new Yamaha saxophone after fund raising efforts by local musicians. Pictured are organisers Jim Jones, Paul Gates, Mike's brother John, his niece Kelsi, brother-in-law Dave Robertson, son Sam Collins, sister Carol Robertson and (front) Ruby and Kaya Collins.

The singer-songwriter wrote a touching tribute to Mr Collins, who died on Saturday

MIKE Collins plays at the special open mic event at the Wrey Arms organsised for him to thank all his supporters who raised money after he was badly injured in a gas explosion at Trinity Street in Barnstaple. MIKE Collins plays at the special open mic event at the Wrey Arms organsised for him to thank all his supporters who raised money after he was badly injured in a gas explosion at Trinity Street in Barnstaple.

Singer-songwriter Jim Jones has paid a heart-warming tribute to Mike Collins, who died on Saturday.

Mr Jones was a long-time friend of Mr Collins, who was identified as the man recovered from the Taw Bridge on Saturday.

Mr Collins, who was a talented saxophone player, suffered serious injuries and lost all his belongings in a devastating explosion in Trinity Street in 2010.

Mr Jones was one of a number of musicians and family who rallied round, organising a series of ‘open Mike’ nights and raising money to help buy him a new saxophone.

Read his full tribute below:

I first got to know Mike when I was around 14 or 15 years old.

He was known for being a good footballer in the area was also a great saxophone player.

He started playing sax for one of the first bands I was involved with as a kid and that’s how I really first got to know him.

It was during that time, through my slightly troubled teenage years, that Mike and his family became a massive encouragement and support to me.

He was certainly one of the most impactful characters of my youth. He was someone, who despite his own troubles, still had words of encouragement for you, often about how much God loved you or how he would want to pray for you.

He was 100 per cent about his faith, and it was infectious. However, despite this he had his own battles, one of which was when he was later diagnosed with Bipolar; a mental illness that affects you in the most extreme of ways leading to bouts of hyper mania, or being really low and depressed.

Mike was obviously quite a visible character when he was ‘up’ and many would recognise him from being the guy loudly playing his sax through town, praying for people (Although Mike had always been fairly extrovert and outgoing).

The other side of the illness is the unseen side, the side that would cause him to disengage, to retreat for days or weeks into his room, leaving him lonely and isolated. There were times when I went to see him and he could barely get out of bed. Even then, in that place, he would always try and be an encouragement and we’d talk about his son Sam who he absolutely loved with a passion.

It was in his flat around six years ago that he was the victim of a fire that made the news.

Another tenant in the block of supported flats Mike was living in at the time, attempted suicide by blowing himself up with gas cylinders.

Sadly Mike was in the flat below, burning gas causes pressure, so when it ignited Mike got the full force of it. He suffered multiple burns and spent months in hospital recovering from his injuries. He lost all of his possessions in that fire, including his beloved saxophones.

We rallied round as his family, friends and the musical community got together and put on a series of open mic or open ‘Mike’ nights as we renamed them, to help raise money to buy him a new sax.

It was a massive lift to Mike and his family to see that level of compassion and love, what he later acknowledged as being a major part of his healing.

Mike was a fighter, he was an overcomer, he was a strong believer in love and the love of God.

I am devastated by the loss of my good friend and the encouragement he brought to me and so many I know that will read this.

His struggles are now over and I have a suspicion he is up there dancing and playing his sax at the great gig in the sky!

God bless you Mike Collins. The world is a little less colourful without you mate.

Did you know Mike Collins? If you would like to share a tribute, please email us.


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