Heavyweight in the world of horses dies

Cyril Wilson at the Southsea Heavy Horse Show in 2013.
Cyril Wilson at the Southsea Heavy Horse Show in 2013.
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A man well known in the heavy horse industry in the Portsmouth area has died.

Cyril Wilson, who lived near Basingstoke, was known locally not only as a train driver but also for never missing the Southsea heavy horse weekend.

Cyril owned five horses at one time and they were all stabled at his home at Sherborne St John.

He was christened John Cecil but was always known as Cyril. He was born and bred in Hampshire and never moved out of the county.

He began owning horses in 1975 and much to the wonderment of his colleagues on the railway he managed to keep them all in tip-top condition despite the expense. He was helped in their grooming by a bevy of girls.

Cyril was not a materialistic man. He did not need a new 48in television, he did not need the latest clothes or a new car car every two years. He lived for his ‘boys and girls’, his horses.

If it came to choosing between a trip to the dentist for expensive treatment or paying a vet’s bill, the latter took priority.

His love for his family of shires was absolute.

Cyril had hands like shovels with skin like heavy sandpaper.

When he shook hands with you your hand remained shaken.

Cyril used to love coming to Southsea for the heavy horse show, although he was upset when the council stopped the parade of horses around the roads surrounding the common.

Over the years he won many awards for his horses and the walls of his house were covered in winners’ rosettes.

I last saw him at Southwick in June for the D-Day weekend when his horses pulled a carriage for visitors around the village.

His funeral is on Monday at Sherborne St John at 1pm.