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Obituary: Michael Thoyts – former Lymington dentist and accomplished sailor

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WELL-KNOWN Lymington dentist Michael Thoyts, who ran his own practice in the town for 20 years, has died aged 91.

A member of the Royal Lymington Yacht Club, Michael was an accomplished sailor, circumnavigating the world in his 60s – mostly solo – in his Rustler 36 and racing X Boats with the club.

Michael grew up near Weymouth having been born in London. He had a tough start in life with the death of his mother when he was just a year old.

Michael Thoyts
Michael Thoyts

He attended boarding school in Cheltenham and later went to Trinity College in Dublin, before starting national service with the Royal Artillery in Egypt aged 19. He spent two years as a second lieutenant before starting a career with the colonial police in Nigeria in 1952.

Starting out as a superintendent in the troublesome north of the country, where he was involved in quelling the 1953 Kano riots, he went on to work in CID in Lagos and was head of immigration for some time before the country was granted independence in 1960.

Having met his wife Joan in Nigeria the couple were married there in 1960, and that year the couple made the decision to move back to the UK,

Embarking on a radical career change, Michael studied as a dentist at the University of Edinburgh. Upon qualifying in 1965, he and Joan moved to Lymington and Michael spent five years as a salaried dentist for the NHS before setting up his own practice in New Street in 1971.

Over the years he and Joan had three children: Simon in 1962, Robert in 1964 and Sarah in 1967.

Joan died in 1987, and after selling the practice in 1990 Michael threw himself into sailing, spending the next several years sailing the world and thereafter spending winters on his boat in the Caribbean.

“He was passionate about sailing and his entire retirement was built around it,” said his son Robert.

He met his second wife Maggie in 1999 while partway through his world voyage, having flown back to the UK seeking a watch keeper to sail up the coast of Brazil to Tobago with him.

“I put my hand up for that job,” said Maggie, also a member of the town’s yacht club. “The upshot was I flew out to Brazil and sailed with him for the final leg of his journey, and it worked out so well we made it a permanent arrangement.”

The couple married at All Saints’ Church in Milford in 2000, and spent the subsequent years travelling back and forth to the Caribbean to live on board Michael’s boat.

“My father was a good dentist and very well respected,” said Robert. “He was immensely practical and very good with his hands.

“He could turn his hand to anything – carpentry, metal work, art, all the really delicate stuff. He was annoyingly good at just about everything.

“He was also extremely honest and had a strong sense of honour. He was a straight man who was very reliable, and you always knew where you stood with him.”

Maggie said that as a member of Lymington Players, he was the maker of all manner of strange props.

“He was very good at making odd items of scenery,” she said. “He even made revolving doors – he would just find the instructions online.

“He also taught knot-making and rope work to the children at the Royal Lymington’s junior sailing club up until about four years ago.”

Michael leaves behind Maggie, his three children and four grandchildren.

His funeral will be held at Bournemouth Crematorium on Tuesday 19th October at 11am.

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