Tom Vella-Boyle - Community Marine Environmentalist
Born: June 3 1944
Died: December 10 2016
Tom Boyle was born on June 3 1944 in Piddinghoe on the South Coast of England, the son of a merchant seaman, who was decorated in World War II for his service in the Royal Navy under the command of Sir Peter Scott on Motor Torpedo Boat 755 in the English Channel.
He joined British Rail and rose through the ranks over a period of over thirty years to become Station Master of Brighton Railway station and several other smaller stations. It was in this role he was responsible for the safe travel of thousands of commuters every day and met and welcomed many famous people of the day, including Queen Elizabeth II, politicians such as Henry Kissinger, astronaut Neil Armstrong and many, many others.
He spent his working life as an administrator of a very busy railway system responsible for complex travel timetables and the timings of thousands of trains per year. After he retired he travelled the UK playing as many golf courses as he could and on his partner Carol’s suggestion he went to the Isle of Arran on the West Coast of Scotland to play some golf.
It was a matter of great irony that he, who had spent a lifetime working with complex timetables, should misread the CAL MAC ferry timetable and missed the ferry back to the mainland. With a couple of hours to spare before the next ferry he strolled to the village of Brodick, where an advert for a sandstone house in the estate agent’s window caught his interest. For something to read on the journey home he asked for the details. This eventually led to him and Carol buying the property and moving to the Isle of Arran in 2001.
He took to island life with great gusto. Alongside renovating their new home he played a major role in many community clubs and societies. One of his biggest influences was on the embryonic state of the organisation the Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST). His skills of administration from his previous occupation were put to good effect, bringing systematic order to disorganised community paperwork. He also instilled a contagious passion for environmental justice in all he met, which was instrumental in the designation by the Scottish Parliament of Scotland's first No-Take Zone in Lamlash Bay in 2008.
In addition to the many hours of voluntary work and endless meetings all over Scotland, England and the Continent to achieve COAST’s aims, his most lasting legacy will be his example of determination and selflessness in achieving a positive outcome for the marine environment from within a community organisation, without making it about individual personalities. This is an ethos which is fundamental to the organisation to this day.
Despite the rollercoaster of community marine conservation one of his happier times was when he picked up the winner's prize for the 2008 Observer Ethical Award, Conservation Project of the year for Community of Arran Seabed Trust from Annie Lennox, who was one of his musical heroines.
Most recently he was very involved in the Bee Club as he had a great love and interest in working with his bees.
But he will be missed by his many friends and all who knew him as an islander who gave more to the island than he took and for the example he set for us all.
He is survived by his wife Carol and her two sons William and Thomas.