John O’Donnell Memorial Page

We're going to greatly miss you John...

The following page is a tribute to John O’Donnell.

John was a founding member of ‘Dual Recovery Anonymous UK’ and then ‘Dual Diagnosis Anonymous’ in the UK. He was therefore, a pioneering person in peer support for Dual Diagnosis. Not only that, John was a great friend, counsel, advisor, guide and pillar of support to many of us.

On the 22nd January 2022, John sadly passed away.

We will greatly miss John but his spirit will live on in DDA.

We welcome you to please add your comments, tributes and messages for John on this page and please email them to Jon C ……

Tribute from Daniel Ware

Dear John,

I will miss you.

I will miss your wisdom, I will miss your compassion, I will miss your kindness and your sense of calm….and I will miss your mirth and laughter.

….But in my heart you’re still there and I will never forget you.

You helped so many but you never made a big fuss out of it; you had to deal your own personal challenges but you just got on with it; but most of all – you always looked out for others, over and above your own needs.

You were an example to us all John.

Your legacy in DDA and your legacy in life, lives on.

Take care old pal x

Tribute from Alan Butler

I have written a few very inadequate words for John’s page. 

I will always hold you dear  John 🙏🏻

I write to say a few words. 

Stop laughing John as I can see that the idea of me being brief, makes you smile. 

The same smile I saw you hold when you and Dan were waving me down whenever I got passionate in my delivery. 

It probably looked like you guys were sweating profusely and were waving the card with a purpose 😂

So, establishing that I’m a man of few words – in the words of a golden oldie, where do I begin ?

Well it began when Dan came back from America having met Corbett and Doyal and was introduced to DDA. 

A purposely put together program largely based on the 12 step program of AA but with an additional five steps encompassing the need to respect and accept our mental health. 

It was then that I met you. 

I advised Dan that we should start at the beginning and started by taking a look at what already exists and is out there and presently supporting those those living with a dual diagnosis. 

I found DRA (dual recovery anonymous) 

and, you. 

There you was – this spiritual brother plugging away with a beautiful desire but with a completely lacking program when considering the mental health considerations. 

You was busy trying desperately to fit a round peg in to a square hole. 

12 steps could never be the 17 steps needed – but you never let that dissuade you. 

Stalwartly and with such grace you plugged and plodded away. 

When Dan and I introduced ourselves and I told you of the DDA program and Corbett Monica’s 12 plus 5 step program you was committed from the get go. 

In my life experience I have not met many admirable humans – but……

Every now and again you meet somebody who restores a faith in humanity. 

John, you was such a man. 

Thank you Brother 🙏🏻

Since then John – ?

Since then I got to know you…..

Since then I got to lean on you for strength…….

Since then I learned to turn to you for direction…….

Since then I learned to listen to you to know wisdom…….

Your spiritual presence was always felt by me John and your calm was always communicated. 

That’s what you did – communicate. 

You tuned in and you listened……..

I was blessed to count you as my friend. 

R.I. P.  John

Alan 🙏

Tribute from Michelle

I owe John O’Donnell a debt of gratitude and love for his help in AA and I know that if I were to say that to him he would reply.. repay me by staying sober. What a great man. 

Tribute from Hazel

John O’Donell was an amazing person. He helped so many people, myself included. He always made himself available to members of DDA, and always endeavoured to encourage and support people. I found DDA during the pandemic, and it was John who first held out his hand to me. He always spoke to me with great compassion in the depths of my Bipolar clinical depressions when few other people have been able to. He was able to identify with me and he always tried to give me hope. If I can be one tenth of the person he was then it would be a life well lived. A great loss to many. May his beautiful spirit live on. DDA member, Hazel 

Tribute from Jon

I’ve known John as far back as DRA days and he always had an extremely calm and grounded manner.

John was so passionate about dual diagnosis and he would always bend over backwards to help anyone struggling with their mental health and/or addiction recoveries.

Whichever fellowship John was in, he would make a beeline for anyone new to recovery. His kind, humble & supportive approach with people always helped guide them in what they needed to do.

In the last year of his life, I had the pleasure and benefit of John’s immense experience as he took me through the DDA Steps. I wanted to go through them quickly and I couldn’t have done it without John.

I will never forget you John and I am grateful to have met you.


Tribute from Ruth

John had a wonderfully well rounded sense of how to help others in the most difficult of circumstances. It was a gift and he will be missed.

Tribute from Frank

I joined DDA about 8 months ago after hearing about the fellowship through a friend.

Phoning the helpline I was greeted by a gentleman, who I now know to be John. I was instantly struck by his warm and calm manner; He was kind, compassionate and encouraging, he put me at ease and made me feel heard and appreciated. 

Although I didn’t know John personally or as well as others in DDA I am aware of how he impacted the lives of those who did. The love and tenderness with which others speak impresses on me the measure of the man.

The love and admiration people talk of leaves me in no doubt that he was a special human being and I personally would like to thank him for all he has done for DDA and for helping to give me and many others like me a safe space where we can come, meet others, communicate and identify. A place where our voices are heard and appropriated. 

John you will be greatly missed by your friends, loved ones and comrades in DDA. Your lasting legacy will remain, testament to all you stood for and all you achieved in your life. 

Thankyou and fare well John. 

Tribute from Claire

To our dear John,

I feel so privileged to have met and known a man like you, with such drive to help others and such humility. You were a gentle giant with a calming presence and endless wisdom.

You leave a huge legacy in your work with DDA and I only hope that we are big enough to fill your shoes as we carry on the good fight. In years to come, when I tell the history of DDA U.K. I will speak of you and say, ‘Yes, I knew him for a little while.

My heart aches for your family and loved ones as I know how I feel about your loss, I can only imagine how they feel.

With lots of love to you and them. I hope we make you proud.  Xxx

Tribute from Ellie

Meeting John was my welcome to the possibility of peace and serenity; his presence and his words opened my mind and heart, and provided a comfort I can only describe as like a coming home. He was a man of deep faith, and I believe that John has now come home to his God. 

John leaves behind a tremendous legacy, and a certainty in me that I will, indeed, always be blessed by my Higher Power with the free will to “do the next right thing.”

My deepest condolences to John’s family and loved ones. 


Tribute Mix from Eddie

John loved his music!

John O'Donnell
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