Goodbye to Fortune’s Billy

Billy Fortune
Billy Fortune

A WELL-KNOWN Whitby resident and member of one of the town’s longest established businesses has died just a month before his 83rd birthday.

He was William Robert Fortune, known generally as Billy, the sixth generation to run Fortune’s kipper business and with the same name as his forbear who founded the firm in 1872.

Billy went to work in the family business with his grandfather Martin as soon as he left the town’s West Cliff School at the age of fourteen.

He stayed there until he was aged seventeen-and-a-half when he joined the Royal Navy where he served for seven years.

During that time he was a member of the Guard of Honour at the present Queen Elizabeth’s wedding to Prince Philip in 1947.

Billy spent the rest of his naval service in Singapore and Hong Kong and then returned to the family kipper business in Whitby where he worked until he retired at the age of 65.

He was married and although he and his late wife Tisha had no children, his sister Jean said he was always close to her three sons Barry, Derek and Alan.

Jean said: “He taught them about the business and he taught them well. He was rather a private man but he liked to walk around the town chatting to people. He had a good life.

“He made a study of Whitby and knew all about it. He also, as a hobby, put ships into bottles.

“He’ll be very much missed by all the family and his friends.”

Following strokes Billy spent some time in a residential care home in Whitby but died in hospital. A funeral service was held in St Hilda’s Church in Whitby.

Fortune’s business, whose products were once praised by Princess Anne, is still run by family members.