Remembering ‘Johnny Boy’

John Nelson inside Whitby Lighthouse
John Nelson inside Whitby Lighthouse

Tributes have been paid to former Whitby lighthouse keeper John Nelson following his death at the age of 55.

Known to many simply as ‘Johnny Boy’, he passed away at his Byland Road home following a short battle with a rare illness. His funeral was held yesterday (Thursday October 23).

John was born in Whitby Hospital in 1959 to Tony and Maureen Nelson.

The family’s home was on Fishburn Park, and John grew up alongside his late older brother Michael, his twin sister Veronica and younger twin brothers Rob and Geoff.

He was educated at St Hilda’s RC School and Whitby West School (later Caedmon) before going on to study at Hull Nautical College.

After leaving full-time education, John joined Trinity House Lighthouse Service.

He worked at Whitby’s lighthouse for many years before undertaking postings at a number of lighthouses all around the UK.

As more and more lighthouses became automated in the late 1990s, John embarked upon a new career as a taxi driver and worked for Eastside 1-2-3 taxis for the last 15 years, up until just days before his death.

“John’s colleagues used to call him Mr Horizontal because he was so laid back,” said Veronica Nelson, paying tribute to her twin.

“As a taxi driver he would literally go the extra mile for his customers.

“If someone needed driving 100 miles on an airport run at 5am then John would always take the job.

“Nothing was ever too much trouble for him.”

By way of tribute to their friend and workmate, John’s former colleagues followed his funeral cortege through Whitby in their taxis to his funeral at Woodlands Crematorium in Scarborough.

John married his now-estranged wife Noelle in 1984 and since 2012 has lived with his partner Su Raines.

He was diagnosed in August this year with amyloidosis a group of rare diseases caused by deposits of abnormal protein, called amyloid, in tissues and organs throughout the body.

John passed away in his sleep at home on October 13.

Remembering her brother, Veronica added: “John was a genuinely lovely man, who was well-known throughout the town and always had a smile on his face.”