Burnley taxi boss Ronnie dies: tributes

Ronnie Gill (s)
Ronnie Gill (s)

A FORMER taxi boss who was “loving, caring, generous and kind” and who made everyone whose lives he touched feel special has died at the age of 71.

Mr Ronnie Gill, of Drammen Avenue, who also had a “wicked sense of humour,” died at home on Wednesday, November 23rd, after a short illness.

Brought up in the Accrington Road area of town, Mr Gill left school at 15. He trained at Bank Hall pit before moving to Hapton Valley where he spent 17 years and helped with the rescue effort following the pit disaster of 1962 from which his younger brother Tony escaped unhurt.

He then set up his own private hire business Ronnie’s Taxis, which brought him into contact with generations of Burnley families. He started off with one car from his then home in Girvan Grove, before moving to an office at Woodtop and later Sandygate.

Before he retired, aged 65, he was working once again on his own under the name Ronnie Gill Private Hire.

His daughter Christine said: “At one point, when he had the office down Sandygate, he had the biggest taxi business in Burnley.”

Mr Gill’s wife Marilyn (60), to whom he was married for 19 years, said he embraced his retirement and the couple enjoyed holidays to the resort of Kalkan in Turkey, although he often liked to tell stories from his days as a taxi driver, including the time he drove snooker champion Alex Higgins. The eldest of six children with profoundly deaf parents, who could not speak, Mr Gill helped to raise his siblings and learned sign language from his parents when he was just a toddler.

“He always had a really good way with children. No matter who they were, he made that child feel special,” said Christine.

Following his retirement Mr Gill took up painting with watercolours. He also liked walking, cooking and socialising with friends at Rosegrove Unity Working Men’s Club and Burnley Football Club and maintained his sense of humour till the end, insisting on wearing his Clarets shirt while a patient at the Royal Blackburn Hospital.

Mr Gill also leaves step-daughter Georgina, brothers Tony, Andrew and Colin, sisters Joyce and Jane, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. His funeral will take place at noon on Thursday at Burnley Crematorium.