Troubled soul Joseph Whitby struggled with mental health and ensuing drug addiction all his life which started from being abused as a child.
Despite the best efforts of his family: “We never could fix it for him,” said his sister Jane Whitby who paid tribute to her beloved brother after he died aged 44 on February 2.
Despite all his battles she will remember Joseph for his bravery, happy smile and kindness.
In the last years of his life he lived at Bellevue in the supported living accommodation in Thornton Heath where he was fed and cared for.
Jane said: “If you ever gave my brother your time, food, a smile, a nice word or money – I am grateful. He fought mental and emotional battles most of us could never dream of and he was very brave. Many people attended his funeral as he was loved by anyone who actually knew him. Despite being 44 – he was like a young child in his soul: kind, trusting, innocent and respectful to those around him. These are words told by everyone who knew him, helped him or worked with him.”
Born in Tulse Hill on January 1 – the time of new beginnings – in 1977 Joseph was the fourth of five children, and attended St Joseph’s College in Upper Norwood leaving with eight GCSE’s. This was a great achievement for a child that came from a very troubled family background and had to move many times in his youth, including being in care. and throughout life.
He was a trained carpenter, could use sign language and had at one point been a worker at the Royal Mail. Joseph was a ridiculously good break-dancer when younger and would often just join in groups on the estate where we grew up. He was fun, creative and an inspiration.
Joseph started his young life cared for by Nanny Finnegan, a wonderful old Irish Catholic lady who used to babysit him, and from that he joined a church and became a choir boy. Throughout life, despite his difficulties, he was always kind to people, tried his best to stay out of trouble and harms way and would often be found just popping in for a visit.
A christian charity in London helped him get housed in Wandsworth where he was closer to his brother Carl. Springfield Psychiatric Hospital and St Mary’s did a great job in caring for Joseph, who had schizophrenia, over the years when he would admit himself if he felt he was getting unwell.
Jane said: “This took amazing bravery and is something I am glad Joseph did when he was ill. Had Joseph not suffered from mental illness, he would have easily been a doctor. He was highly intelligent and very caring.”
Now he joins his eldest brother Carl who sadly died at age 30 from suspected carbon monoxide poisoning and they have been buried in the same plot together.
He never got over Carl’s death and life was much more troubled from then onwards. However, he will now be remembered for the happy smile, resilience having dealt with mental health issues since a young age, kindness to all and his pure gentle soul, said Jane.
- Joseph with his niece and nephew
- Jane’s last picture of Jospeh
- Joseph as a child
- Joseph pictured with Jane