It was with much sadness that we heard that Neil Johnson passed away on Tuesday 13 October, after a short illness.
For many of us we knew Neil only as the Yare Sailing Club bosun, though in truth there were many 'strings to his bow'. Born in Kent, his family moved to Norfolk while Neil was very young. Growing up in Freethorpe, Neil showed an early flourish at cricket, eventually playing for South Walsham. He also was an avid fan of Rugby - supporting Northampton Saints throughout.
Coupled with Benson, his faithful Labrador, Neil also had great success as a wildfowler; recounting stories of marshland in winter, using his patience and skill as he awaited 'flights' coming over.
Although he started his career in a boatyard, his mechanical flair soon led him into motorsports, a world he enjoyed professionally and personally. Members of the Breckland 4X4 club would attest to his skill behind the wheel, coupled with characteristic generosity. Usually, having won a competition, Neil would inevitably be found helping others with broken vehicles or similar.
Neil found great friendship with many of us in the Yare Sailing Club - his association with the club starting in 2003. He regularly sailed aboard 'Lucky Breeze' with David & Ros Walker, thoroughly enjoying wind strengths which would see many of us stay tied to the bank! He also helped on the line at times, or could be found manning the club boat during races.
Two of Neil's strengths were generosity and diligence - if he could help, he would. His advice, or more usually graft, was given readily without expecting anything in return. This generosity was coupled with a careful, diligent approach. What Neil did, you could be sure would be done excellently. Our bosun for a number of years, behind the scenes he worked hard for the club, offering great support and doing many small jobs, unasked.
At his funeral, on November 5th, we were asked to think of good memories of Neil, something I am certain we are able to do. For me, it's the amazing Christmas jumpers or hats that Neil would don at our Turkey Race dinners.
Neil asked that, in his memory, donations could be made to the Wherry Maud Trust.