Jim Henderson was proud Cornishman and 'people's person' who touched many lives

The brothers of James Henderson, who died last month while working for a humanitarian charity in Gaza, have spoken about how he was always driven and "laser focused" in everything he did throughout his life. Jim, as he was known, was one of the seven World Central Kitchen volunteers who died when their convoy was hit outside the Deir al-Balah warehouse on April 1.

Speaking ahead of his funeral in Truro Cathedral tomorrow (Wednesday, May 22), his older brothers Matt and Dan took some time to talk about their sibling and how much he touched all those he met throughout his life, whether his various friendship groups within the rugby world, at his boxing gym, in the military or as a defence contractor in his latest role.

"Jim was a people's person," Matt said. "He enjoyed spending time with his different friendship groups. He had a lot of friendship groups. He had his school friends, his rugby friends, the guys from the military, the guys from when he was doing security work more recently.

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"He was on the go. Jim was such as an active guy. I can never understand how he would get up at 5am and go running, come home for breakfast then he'd go to the gym. He packed a lot in. He made his time count for sure."

Dan added: "He was very outgoing. He lived life to the full." Both agree that from a young age, Jim was always focused on achieving the goals he had set out for himself.

Matt said: "He was very determined guy in everything he put his hands to. As his brother I remember him being so laser focused on his commitment and whatever challenges he set himself to do. And more often than not he achieved what he set out to achieve. He was such a determined guy."

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James "Jim" Henderson, one of the World Central Kitchen seven aid workers who were killed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza on April 1
James "Jim" Henderson, one of the World Central Kitchen seven aid workers who were killed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza on April 1 -Credit:World Central Kitchen/PA Wire

He added: "When we played football or sports together as children, or just messing around, play-fighting, being the youngest he had more of a challenge which is something that set his character up to how he led his life. He would never not want to challenge us in anything we were doing. He would always have, maybe being the youngest, that competitive streak. He certainly held his own. And if he didn't. He certainly gave it a good go."

Both said that Cornwall was an important part of Jim's life. A proud Cornishman, Jim, who also known as "Hendo", loved doing what people who live here do, from going to the beach to enjoying boats.

Matt said: "He loved Cornwall. Him and his friends would spend a lot time going out on boats, go to the beach and do the typical things that being from Cornwall people love to enjoy. I lived for a short while with him, and I remember that he had two flags. He had a Royal Marines flag and he also had a Cornwall flag. He was very proud of that. He was a proud Cornishman.

"He would have been proud and very humbled with the show of support and outpouring of love he has received. He was a very humble person. To think that so many people want to pay their respects and be part of that day is quite overwhelming."

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Dan added: "It's been very comforting to see the love and support from the wider community, from people I have never met. People genuinely care and can see that what Jim was doing was a very noble thing, something which as a family, we can be very proud of."

Fundraisers were set up for his family and favourite club in the days after the 33-year-old died. In a statement released by his family this week, they said Jim had a strong passion for rugby and “followed his dreams” by joining the Royal Marines and seeing front-line action in Afghanistan, while “people” were always at the heart of everything he did and drove him to “be better”. See that full tribute here.

Dan and Matt Henderson pay tribute to their brother, James "Jim" Henderson, from Cornwall, who was among seven World Central Kitchen (WCK) workers killed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza.
Dan and Matt Henderson pay tribute to their brother, James "Jim" Henderson, from Cornwall, who was among seven World Central Kitchen (WCK) workers killed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza. -Credit:Greg Martin / Cornwall Live

They said: "It was this drive that took him to Gaza in support of World Central Kitchen, and those so badly affected by the conflict in the region. Whilst we will never comprehend his loss, we know that he died doing something that mattered to him, he was making a difference and for that, at least, we are grateful.

"Above all others, those that mattered most to Jim were his fiancée Jacqui, and his family. ‘Proud’ does not come close to expressing how we all feel for what Jim achieved, and we know would have gone to achieve.

"Whilst mourning the loss of him, and what he would have undoubtedly continued to do with his life, we also reflect on his legacy and the many people who will continue to benefit from what he started. We love him. We miss him. We celebrate his achievements."

Jim will get a full Truro Cathedral funeral tomorrow with everyone invited by the family to attend and/or line the streets for his cortege. See full details here.

John Chapman, from Dorset and James Kirby, from Bristol also lost their lives in the same explosion on April 1. With them were Palestinian Saifeddin Issam Abu Taha, Australian Lalzawmi ‘Zomi’ Frankcom, Damian Sobol from Poland and Jacob Flickinger from the US. The funeral of his colleague, James Kirby, was attended by hundreds of people in Bristol on Wednesday (May 15). The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) dismissed two officers and reprimanded three others over the incident, calling it a “serious mistake”.