Tributes paid to 'larger than life' property expert Michael O'Flaherty

A wife has paid tribute to her ‘larger than life’ husband who was a popular member of the estate agency Roger Platt.

Michael O’Flaherty was area director of the estate agents, which is part of the Connells group; he had worked for the business for more than 45 years.

After fighting bowel cancer since July 2018, Michael died of sepsis at the age of 70 in the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading, on Sunday, January 27.

Michael was born in Reading in 1948 to parents Joy and Brian.

His father was an engineer in the Royal Navy and so the family moved around the country until he came out of the maritime force and the family settled in Liverpool.

A pupil of Merchant Taylor’s Crosby independent school, on Merseyside, Michael realised his passion for cricket and quickly became an integral player for the 1st XI, culminating in him being picked for the Lancashire County cricket team.

This was also where he sat his A-levels before returning to the South-east.

It was here that he resurrected his support of Reading Football Club, becoming a season ticket holder, while also being a life-long supporter of Liverpool.

Later Michael came to live in Twyford and began training as a chartered surveyor in London but soon realised that the profession was not for him.

He joined Roger Platt and Partners, as it was then known, in the early Seventies, and never looked back, ‘his job was his life’.

Roger Platt was also the place he first met his future wife Jacqueline, who joined the business as a mortgage consultant in 1990.

Jacqueline said: “He was larger than life, very positive, full of stories and bad jokes!

“His job was his life, apart from his family; he was just so enthusiastic and passionate about it.”

While working at the business Michael was approached to become resident estate agent on the ITV makeover show Better Homes, presented by Carol Vorderman.

This led him to make regular appearances on shows including GMTV and on BBC Berkshire as their go-to housing market expert.

After meeting in 1991, Michael and Jacqueline soon became a couple and in 1994 their son Calum was born.

When Jacqueline was expecting their second child, Mollie, in December 1997 the family were on holiday in Dunk Island, off the coast of Queensland, Australia. It was there, on December 23, that they married, with young Calum as best man.

Their marriage and life together seemed destined, according to Mollie, now 20.

“Dad was basically head over heels in love as soon as mum joined the company,” she said.

Family and friends at home only found out about the wedding when they opened Christmas presents from the couple two days later and read a note about the nuptials.

Michael, Jacqueline and the children continued to enjoy a life of travel together, with numerous trips often coinciding with his passion for his favourite singer.

Jacqueline said: “Many of our family holidays were linked to Bruce Springsteen.”

Michael saw the pop star more than 130 times in concert and even met him in person.

The family were flying from New York to England on Concorde, having celebrated Michael’s 50th birthday and Springsteen was on the same flight. Michael chatted with him and got his autograph.

As well as other holidays to America, the family also went on safaris in multiple locations, which no doubt contributed to Calum’s career choice.

Calum said: “It was through these trips I realised my passion for wildlife and conservation. He always supported me in doing what I loved, I was very lucky.”

Calum studied Geology at the University of Leicester and did a MSc in Global Wildlife Health and Conservation at the University of Bristol. He is now an animal keeper in Cotswold Wildlife Park.

Mollie said: “Any opportunity throughout our lives, he just wouldn’t let us say no. He helped us to achieve so much. He was just the best dad really.”

Currently on a year in industry at the South Australian Sports Institute in Adelaide, Mollie studies sport and exercise science at the University of Bath.

Calum played for Maidenhead Rugby Club as a child until the age of 18, during which time his father was a huge support to the club.

He played a big part in helping them to raise more than £60,000 so that Calum’s team could go on a tour of Argentina and Uruguay, something he was very proud of.

Michael’s funeral took place yesterday (Thursday) at All Saints’ Church, Binfield at 2.30pm.

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