A hero in more ways than one

Dallas K Taylor with with June and son Mark in front of the Ocean Sapphire.
Dallas K Taylor with with June and son Mark in front of the Ocean Sapphire.

TRIBUTES have been paid to a well known lifeboatman who was not only a hero to the dozens of people’s lives he saved but to his family too.

Dallas K Taylor dedicated his life to the sea and spent years serving with Blyth RNLI, helping save 65 people during his time with the organisation.

But in August last year, at the age of 70, he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease, and the illness finally took his life last week.

His funeral was held on Tuesday in Whitley Bay on what would have been his 71st birthday.

Tributes have been pouring in for the husband, father and grandfather who was not only famous for his work at sea, but for his love of art and music.

His son Mark, 31, who resigned from his job at Newcastle College to care for his father when he was diagnosed with the illness, heaped praise on the man he looked up to.

“It was the most traumatic thing but at the same time the greatest honour to look after him and the easiest decision to make,” he said.

In a twist of fate it was during Dallas’ love of rebuilding boats that he discovered something was not quite right.

The father and son had travelled to Scotland together and bought a boat that Dallas had wanted for a while with the view of refurbishing it.

And when Dallas was cutting up the boat he felt a strain in his shoulder, which turned out to be the first symptoms of the illness.

After 40 years of service the 70-year-old was recognised for his dedication with a bronze award at the RNLI 2010 awards in June, having already been given two vellums for his bravery in previous years.

In tribute to his father, Mark continued to refurbish the boat bought last year, and in one of the last outings Dallas was taken down to the harbour to see Ocean Sapphire launched.

And inside the vessel a plaque has been installed dedicating it to Dallas.

Mark added: “I continued to refit the boat and that was launched three weeks before he died, it was like a living memorial for him as so many of his friends and family attended the event.

“We managed to get down on to the pontoon and he touched the boat, which he never really thought he would be able to do.”

At his funeral on Tuesday it was a chance for loved ones to celebrate his life as his coffin was draped in the RNLI flag with a white cap placed on top.

Mark’s sister Isobel Johnson added: “We have all had to pull together because dad was so important to us.

“There will be a part missing now because he touched everybody’s heart, he was just a very kind, genuine man.”