Lynne McGranger’s heartbreaking tribute to Johnny Ruffo

'Johnny was like a son.'
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From the moment Lynne McGranger met Johnny Ruffo on the set of Home and Away in 2013, she knew someone special had just walked into her life.

Bonding over their mutual love of AFL, the pair struck up an immediate friendship.

Over time, their connection got so deep Lynne often said Johnny was “the son she never had”.

She was also right by his side as he courageously fought cancer for six years.

WATCH NOW: Lynne McGranger speaks about how much she loves Johnny Ruffo. Article continues after video.  

Given their strong friendship, it’s understandable that Lynne, 70, is devastated at Johnny passing away, aged just 35.

Following the news, Lynne escaped to peaceful Berry in New South Wales for a “much-needed family getaway” after a particularly “tough week”.

Amid her grief, Lynne posted a lengthy tribute to Johnny on social media, calling him a “warrior” who was “brave and cheeky to the very end”.

“He was our friend and we loved him,” Lynne penned. “But more than that he was a beloved son to Jill, a soulmate to his darling Tahnee, a brother to Michael, a cousin and a precious grandson to his dearest Nonna.

“Talented, funny, loyal and naughty – we love you my friend. Fly high free from pain. You are missed.”

The duo hit it off when Johnny joined Home and Away. (Credit: Getty)

Johnny’s longtime partner Tahnee Sims commented on Lynne’s post with multiple heart emojis, and wrote “my did he love you Lynney!”

Rhonda Burchmore also left a comment, telling Lynne “he adored you… you were such a great friend to him.”

Johnny was diagnosed with brain cancer back in 2017 and, after months of gruelling treatment, went into remission. Sadly, the cancer returned in 2020, and on November 10 in 2023, his family shared that he had passed away.

Johnny called his longtime girlfriend Tahnee Sims his “guardian angel.” (Credit: Instagram)

“He battled all the way to the end and fought as hard as he could,” they wrote on the former The X Factor Australia star’s Instagram page.

“Such a beautiful soul with so much more to give.

“We all love you Johnny and will remember you for all the joy you brought to our lives. Rest easy.”

Lynne and Johnny saw each other “every other week.” (Credit: Instagram)

His cheeky personality and ability to make others laugh was just one of the things Lynne loved about Johnny, with the actress revealing their “sense of humour is the same”.

“He’s the most irreverent person you could ever, ever meet but because he’s funny and cheeky gets away with murder,” the Summer Bay veteran said back in July.

Despite their age gap, Lynne says the pair “hit it off from day one”.

Johnny also affectionately called her his “East Coast Mama”.

“You know those funny, quirky things that happen to you in life, where you just meet people that you wouldn’t expect to form lifelong friendships with, but you just do?” she recently shared.

“Fly high from pain. You are missed.” (Credit: Newspix)

And during his cancer treatment, Johnny was grateful to have Lynne by his side, long after he left Summer Bay in 2016.

He said in an interview last year, “She’s amazing. She constantly checks in and asks how I’m doing. She always wants to go for dinner. I can’t stress enough how people like her help get through tough times. She’s just a wonderful person.”

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