TRIBUTES have been made to a Llandudno “legend” who organised donkey rides on the West Shore beach following his death.
Phil Talbot, known affectionately as “Phil the donkey man”, died aged 83 on August 19, following a battle with dementia.
He is survived by his sister Gwyneth, his sons Kevin and Garry and daughter Sonia, his eight grandchildren, and his eight great-grandchildren.
Phil worked six donkeys on the West Shore, including Charlie – the only donkey he bred himself.
The donkeys retired to Sidmouth, Devon in 2019, following Phil’s 30 years on the beach.
His eldest son, Kevin, paid tribute to his father, saying: “He was a legend of West Shore and an ambassador for it.
“For so many years, as well as doing the donkeys, he was a keen gardener.
“He always entered his front garden in the Llandudno in Bloom competition, and won many times. His garden was immaculate.
“Garry put the news about Phil’s death on Facebook, and the next minute, there were about 150 comments. I read them all, and was heartbroken, because it’s still so raw and fresh.”
Phil started working for Llew Hughes as a teenager, who ran donkeys on Llandudno’s North Shore beach.
Until his retirement, he remained in the business from then on, besides a two-year spell in the Army as a national serviceman.
He started his own string of donkeys on West Shore more than 30 years ago, and at one time, had as many as 10, and one or two horses.
In the summer of 2002, Phil’s wife died, as did his son, Paul, aged 35. When Paul was 18, Phil donated one of his kidneys to him.
Kevin said this gesture epitomised what a selfless human being Phil was, adding: “He wouldn’t let me, Garry or Sonia do it, because he said we still had our lives to live.
“My dad lived for 35 years after that with one kidney. That was the kind of guy he was.
“Times were hard when we were brought up in the 1970s, but he got us through it.
“He used to work on the farms, then on the milk, then on the breweries, and then for Conwy County Borough Council, as a refuse collector.
“He knew North Wales like the back of his hand.”
Phil would also support his sons in their sporting endeavours, following them wherever they played football.
And despite him being “Liverpool mad”, it was thanks to a trip with the West Shore Social Club, where Phil was a member, that Kevin became a staunch Evertonian.
The club organised a trip to watch Everton play Chelsea at Goodison Park in March 1970, which Phil and Kevin both went on.
Everton won 5-2, in what was Kevin’s first experience of live football.
Kevin added: “He took me to my first football game when I was seven.
“We went with the West Shore Social Club, which is still there now, just about, as my dad was a member there – he once picked up a donkey in the club minibus.
“From that day, I ended up supporting Everton, even though he was Liverpool mad.
“I was captain of the Llandudno Town team for five years, and he used to love coming with us to away games.
“He’d follow me and my brother all over North Wales; if there was a match on, he’d make sure he got there.
“He was a character and will be sadly missed by many.”
Janet Finch-Saunders, MS for Aberconwy, also added her condolences.
Mrs Finch-Saunders said: “It is truly saddening news to hear of the passing of Phil Talbot. I fondly remember writing to congratulate him on his retirement at age 80.
“As many will know, Phil was a lovely and lively man who, for decades, entertained residents and visitors alike with his donkey rides along the West Shore.
“I have known Phil since I was 12 years old. From that day to this, I have never heard a bad word said about him.
“He was a true gentleman, and a much-loved character of our town.
“His loss is devastating to our community; however, his memory will undoubtedly live on for many years to come through the hundreds of lives that he touched throughout his lifetime.
“I extend my most heartfelt condolences to Phil’s friends and family at this difficult time.”