Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting CHNEWS to 80360, or email
Obituary: John Jarvis-Thomas
11:51am Thursday 7th March 2013 in News
Born in Blackpool, he arrived in Skipton in 1938 when parents Ernest and Gertrude Jarvis and brother Bryan moved up Shortbank Road.
John attended Parish Church Infants School on Otley Street and Brougham Street Secondary Modern before entering Wellesley Nautical College in Blyth, Northumberland.
There he learned seaman’s skills and having learned to swim at Moorview Baths, became a powerful swimmer earning full life-saving and coaching accreditation.
By 1952 with his seaman’s ticket (it was far superior to a mere passport, he claimed), he joined the Elder Dempster fleet which served most of the world’s major ports.
Asked recently about his more memorable trips, he remembered one scary moment when he instinctively dived into stinking turbulent water between ship and dock to save a drowning mate. Commended for his efforts, he had nightmares afterwards.
Thrice-married, he and his second wife Bernice lived for a while in Shortbank Road before moving to Earby with their four sons. He held down various jobs including railway guard, lifeguard at Nelson baths and brickie.
Eventually John teamed up with a contractor, building what later became the Tomato Dip Cafe on Keighley Road.
Unfortunately his boss’s business failed, leaving John jobless and broke, so he packed up and drifted back to Great Yarmouth, where he knew experienced seamen were urgently wanted.
By 1976 he had remarried and with his new wife Jean and stepson Rodney, settled at Gorleston-on-Sea.
After working occasionally as a ship’s engineer to West African ports, he joined a local oil rig supply company, Zapata Offshore, servicing deep-sea platforms in the North Sea.
He also set up a small fleet of pick-up trucks delivering urgent rig-related parts to Teesside and Aberdeen sea ports.
Yet throughout his Norfolk-based life, John often returned to Skipton and Earby to visit his extended family and enjoy a pint or three with his friends.
In recent years, his health gradually deteriorated until two years ago, having contacted MRSA in his local hospital, he had to have both legs amputated. Some months later, his third wife Jean died.
But nothing stopped John from getting about on his mobility scooter.
To the end, John enjoyed reminiscing about family and friends “up home” but he was settled forever in Gorleston, within sight, sound and smell of the oceans he loved.