Those readers [of the Glenside News] who have moved to Castle Bytham since the 1970’s or 1980’s will not know Nigel and Joyce Whittaker who lived at No. 2 St Martins where John and Jenny Gascoyne now reside.
Nigel and Joyce came to the village when, still in his twenties, Nigel was appointed Company Secretary of British Sugar Corporation at Peterborough. His admirable brain power was evidenced by a place at Clare College, Cambridge followed by studies at Yale Law School.
He met Joyce when, as an undergraduate, he worked helping refugee children in Austria. This interest in charity work and helping others less fortunate than himself continued throughout his life. Deciding that being a barrister was not for him Nigel followed a highly successful commercial career culminating in his becoming a director of Kingfisher ( a world-class retailing group) and being Chairman of B&Q. This appointment caused much merriment in Castle Bytham as Nigel was renowned for his inability to drive in a nail straight! In the Nineties he advised Margaret Thatcher on the Sunday opening of shops and, latterly, entered the world of Public Relations becoming Chairman of two successful public relations companies.
An abiding memory of the Whittaker’s concerns their regular stabling of Skegness Beach donkeys during the winter months. To see Joyce, dressed in flowing robes, leading a donkey carrying one of their boys along Glen Road was a truly biblical-like sight. Nigel was an accomplished drummer and always found time to accompany the Bytham Players, immaculately dressed in dinner suit. My family and I were privileged to attend a party at their home in Dorset when Nigel and friends reformed their rock group from their university days – memorably called John Thomas and the Swingers!
We kept in touch over the years and I valued tremendously his advice and counsel when I started my own business. We would also swap investment tips – his adding to my wealth ; mine depleting his! A few years ago Nigel and Joyce moved from Dorset to deepest Somerset and I last visited them in January of this year when Nigel’s cancer was at an advanced stage. He died at home on February 19th (2011). I have lost a good friend and confidant. He leaves Joyce and three sons of whom he was rightly very proud.
By Malcolm Brown
Edited from Glenside April 2011 : 07/04/11 : MG