Dave Mitchell: longstanding Lymington fisherman whose family run a shellfish business

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Dave Mitchell who died at the age of 77

A LYMINGTON fisherman for half a century whose family run a shellfish business has died aged 77.

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Dave Mitchell was born in Yeovil in 1941 and moved to Coastguard Cottages in Lymington with his family when he was five years old. He went to school in Brockenhurst, where he excelled in art.

Upon leaving education he worked at Berthon Boat Company as a yacht painter, then became assistant harbour master to Fred Woodford.

However, he longed to fish and eventually achieved his dream of buying his first boat and taking up fishing full time.

He married his first wife Kay at St Saviour’s Church in Brockenhurst and they had four children – Mandy, Sharon, Tracey and David. Kay had a fish stall on Lymington market and sold shellfish like crabs and oysters caught by Dave, from the kitchen window of a house in Portmore

He fished the Solent for almost 50 years, having one or two breaks in Cornwall, and was known to local fishermen as Hogan. He was a member of the Stanswood Bay Oystermans’ Association and also leased the Beaulieu River for many years, where he grew oysters and clams.

Dave bought Snooks Farm in Snooks Lane, Lymington, in 1990, where the family business S&J Shellfish wholesalers thrives today, and where Sharon, Tracey and Joan work. Dave’s other children Mandy and David have emigrated to New Zealand.

Over his life he owned around 15 fishing boats, all moored at Lymington Quay. Particularly notable was one he named ‘Our Kay’ after his wife, and the vessel’s launch was covered by the A&T.

After Kay died Dave moved to Wales for a few years, but missed Lymington so much he returned to the town, where in 1991 he married his second wife Joan at the town’s registry office.

Sharon said: “In his later years he was chilling out a bit more, but he did deliveries all over Lymington for us in the van and many people used to say they saw him zooming around every day, but he never saw them!

“He was a hard worker. He meant everything to us.”

A strong, outdoorsy man, Dave would help anyone in need. He once again featured in the A&T when he saved local Colonel Phillips from a burning building – and he rescued another man, Ken Baker, when he became stuck in mud.

Two years ago, Dave was diagnosed with kidney failure and was just settling into retirement when he started dialysis.

He and Joan had started planning ahead to when she retires on 31st December, but dialysis did not agree with him and one day he was found unconscious at home having suffered a hypoxic brain injury. Dave spent six days on a life support machine at Southampton General Hospital before he died.

His funeral at St Mary’s Church in South Baddesley was packed with family and friends. The family expressed their gratitude to the Rev. Michael Joint, who came out of retirement to officiate the service. He also led Kay’s and grandmother Katherine’s funerals. “He has been a great support to us,” Joan added.

Dave is survived by his wife, children, nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

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