Dr Colin White

A dockyard mobile crane unloads the cargo of cement from the coaster at Flathouse Quay, Portsmouth

THIS WEEK IN 1988: Out of time in search for arms and drugs

Tributes have been paid to a leading Nelson expert and popular museum director who died of cancer on Christmas Day.

Colleagues are mourning Dr Colin White, who led the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Battle of Trafalgar in 2005 before becoming director of the Royal Naval Museum at Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard in 2006.

The 57-year-old of Southsea had been suffering from cancer but he was given a good prognosis in the summer of 2008 after he had a kidney removed.

But the cancer returned to his lungs. He was taken to the Rowans Hospice in Purbrook where he died 10 days later on December 25.

Dr White was described as 'larger than life' by friends and colleagues who said he'd be greatly missed by many.

Peter Goodship, chief executive of the Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust, said: 'He was an extraordinary guy in so many different ways. Other academics may have vied with Colin for the title of the world's finest authority on Nelson but no-one could speak about our national hero with such commitment, passion and humour as Colin; no doubt assisted by his talent as an Shakespearean actor!

'He may regard as the pinnacle of his career the prominent role he played in organising the Trafalgar commemorations in 2005 for which, deservedly, he received the appointment of Honorary Captain, Royal Navy. It was a fitting tribute to someone who had devoted such a big part of his life to the study of Nelson.'

Graham Dobbin, deputy director at the Royal Naval Museum, said: 'He was a larger than life character. You always knew when Colin was in the building.

'Lots of people will miss him greatly. I'm contacting more than 200 people to let them know the funeral details and I know there will be many more than that.

'He brought energy to the museum, a sense of optimism, lots of ideas and a can-do attitude.'

Dr White's funeral and memorial service is planned at the Anglican Cathedral in Portsmouth on a date to be set.

n Colin White: Born August, 1951; died December 25, 2008.