An appreciation by the Turner Family
Turner was born in West London, in May 1932. He had a happy childhood
until WW2 intervened in his life at the age of 8 at which time the bombing of London led to him becoming an evacuee three
On the second time he was evacuated it was to his aunt who lived in the Essex countryside where his uncle Harry showed him how to service his 350 cc Ariel motorbike; this was to prove useful later for him in fixing boat engines.
He loved cycling and while in his teens he and his friend Jack cycled round Ireland. His love of cycling never diminished and he still had a go on his beloved Claude Butler bike at the age of 89. John was always an adventurous person. He and a group of friends bought an old London taxi and took it to France and toured Europe. He learned to fly a glider and also how to box. John rarely did things the easy way. So, while studying medicine he also took a Diploma in theology and also learned German.
Subsequently he moved to Edinburgh for his surgical training and on starting there he met Audrey, one of the theatre nurses in 1960. They married in 1962 and settled down in East Barnton in Edinburgh. A year later Susan was born with Simon following 2 years after.
John continued his neurosurgical training under Professor Norman Dott and Professor Francis Gillingham. Prof. Gillingham had an interest in stereotactic neurosurgery and introduced John to this novel technique. At the end of his training he won a Welcome Fellowship which allowed him to travel to leading centres in the USA. In 1967 John, Audrey and their two young children headed across the Atlantic to live in New Jersey and work at Columbia University, New York and then to Phoenix, Arizona. After a final stint in Seattle he came back to be appointed as a consultant in Glasgow at the Neurosurgical Unit then based at Killearn Hospital but shortly to move to the Southern General.
He was an early pioneer of functional stereotactic neurosurgery which involves the surgeon being guided by complex calculations from x-rays, brain scans and electrical recordings to treat specific parts of the patient’s brain. An example using this technique would be to help eliminate the tremor of Parkinson’s disease.
John likened it to sailing where you had to study the
in detail along with the weather and the tide tables.
loved sailing, which was something that could be enjoyed by the whole
family. His first boat was a Vivacity 24, followed by a Maxi 84 kept
a mooring at Cardwell Bay where
enjoyed racing every Monday evening. In 1981 he then moved on to a Maxi 95 which he later moved to Craobh
Haven. All of
boats were named Bright Angel after the location in the
Grand Canyon where he and the family had holidayed while he
in the USA.
He sailed extensively around the West coast of Scotland as well as sailing to
the Scillies, Ireland, France and in Norway. He regularly raced in the Clyde
and on the West Coast. The family spent many summer breaks sailing around
the grandeur of the West Coast of Scotland, getting away from a busy life in
When the winter weather prevented sailing, John and Audrey took to the ice
and thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of curling. He was also creative with a
deep interest and love of art. He went to art classes, joined a couple of
Clubs and became president of Glasgow Southern Art Club. Not content with
developing the different techniques for oils, acrylics, gouache and pastels he
did his A level in Art history. It was fascinating going to a gallery with him as he could explain the history and symbolism of masterpieces, bringing them to life.
Inevitably he was a founding member of the Serpent Yacht Club and as testament to his racing success his name appears on many of the club trophies. He was a Serpent committee member for many years and served as Commodore between 1987 and 89. Following his beloved Audrey’s passing in 2009 John sold Bright Angel but continued to attend Serpent musters and dinners and enjoyed guest crewing and helming on the round Shuna Race. His active involvement with the club spanned six decades up to 2021.
5 grandchildren and he relished his role as a doting grandfather,
delighting in entertaining them and taking an interest in all they did. He enjoyed
doing all sorts of practical things with them; how to pitch a tent, how to row,
tie knots and catch fish as well as taking them to museums and galleries.
He will be greatly missed by many.
John Turner a personal note from Winnie Strang
I first met John on board a Saga round-the-world cruise ship in 2011. He had
been on board for six weeks before I boarded in Singapore and had already
made a huge number of friends.
He always had a thirst for knowledge and had organised all these friends to
study the Coriolis effect as the ship crossed the equator by watching in which
direction the water flowed down the wash hand basins in their cabins.
I met him in the ballroom dance classes but I loved to see him up on deck
watching the ship manoeuvre into the various ports of call -maybe wondering if he could have done it better?
Up on deck he told me about his wonderful days sailing on the West coast of
Scotland with both the Serpent Yacht Club of which he was a founder
member and the Clyde Cruising Club. I was enchanted to hear names like Tighnabruaich, Kames, Tarbert Loch Fyne, Crinan and the Kyles of Bute, all which I remembered from my days sailing with the Royal College of Science and Technology Sailing Club. We both left the ship in Sydney and went off on separate adventures for the next year.
However, the following year we met again on the same ship and at the end of
the cruise he invited me to visit him in Scotland and he took me to visit all
these magical places where he had sailed with the Serpent Yacht Club.
John’s parents had taken him on holiday to Scotland after WW2 and he had
decided then that he wanted to live there and so the first job he applied for
after having had to do National Service in Germany was in Edinburgh where
he married his theatre sister, Audrey.
They sailed together with the Serpent Yacht Club on many adventures and he
won many trophies which always had pride of place on his sideboard.
He was very proud to have been a founder member of the Serpent Yacht
Club and equally proud of the successful vibrant club that it is today. Thank you all for making him so happy and proud of the Serpent Yacht Club.