Tributes to WNJ founder Michael Johnson

Tributes have been paid to Michael Johnson, one of the founders of WNJ, who has passed away at the age of 81 after a short illness.

Michael, who was once the youngest Chartered Accountant in the UK, was also a former director at Preston North End, chairman of the Preston Musical Comedy Society and president of the Preston Grammar School Association.

Preston-born and educated at the Grammar School, he founded his own accounting practice in the city after two years’ National Service, attached to the Grenadier Guards and based near Buckingham Palace.

That business was then merged with another firm of accountants to form Wallwork, Nelson and Johnson (WNJ) with his friend and business partner Doug Nelson.

Michael and Doug worked closely together and were instrumental in building up the large and respected firm of chartered accountants that is WNJ today.

He retired as a partner in early 2000 and enjoyed many years working as a consultant with the practice, only stepping down from working one day a week a few months short of his 80th birthday.

Michael was well known and respected across the city. He also held several positions over a 40-year period as a director, consultant and trustee of various businesses and charities in the local area.

He also had a number of leisure and social interests including football, golf, rugby, opera and musical comedy. Michael supported Preston North End for more than 65 years. And on the sports field he even played rugby at Twickenham on one occasion for The Guards.

Michael and his wife Barbara, who were married in 1959, have three sons: Ian, Stuart and Simon, eight grandchildren: Matthew, Natalie, Hannah, Isabel, Sam, Oliver, Joseph and Sophia and two great grandchildren: Emily and Alicia.

Today Ian is a partner at WNJ and Matthew is an associate at the practice.

Paul Woodburn, a partner at WNJ, said: “Michael was massively respected, not only for his dedicated work building this practice but also in the wider business community and for his support of community projects and charities.

“The impact he made on people’s lives has been evident by the heartfelt condolences and warm messages that have been sent to the firm’s office.

“His professionalism and knowledge was coupled with good humour and warmth. He will be sadly missed by everyone who knew him.”

Michael’s funeral service was held at Preston Crematorium and was attended by a large number of former clients and business associates, as well as family and friends.