The eldest son of William Archibald Hyde and Sarah Elizabeth, William was born on 22nd June 1923 in Plaistow East London. He had two younger siblings, Margaret (Peggy) and John.
It was the family’s tradition to name the first son after his father and you can just imagine the confusion at times as dad was growing up, living in the same house as his Grandfather William (Bill) and his father William (Will) so almost from the start they used his middle name Thomas and he was known to everyone as Tom.
I think I was in my teens before I realised that dad’s real name was William and not Tom.
As a young child Tom would spend several weeks towards the end of the summer each year hopping in Kent with his extended family.
Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and cousins would all pack their belongings and head for Goudhurst and while the older members of the family were working long hard hours in the fields fruit or hop picking the children would play in the hop binds.
At the age of around seven Tom’s family moved to Kent and he told me stories of an idyllic childhood, living in a rented gardener’s cottage of a big house in Wilmington, where he had the run of the big walled garden. He would spend happy hours helping himself to all kinds of fruit from the trees and collecting eggs from the ditches where the chickens used to roam free.
The family later moved to Swanley and then to Long Reach and as soon as he was old enough (around the age of eleven) he started his first weekend job working in a treatment plant alongside his father.
Yet another move of house and Tom found himself living in Dartford and working part time driving a little narrow gauge train, moving aggregate.
Eventually he left school and went to work full time for Walkers the Jewellers in Dartford and with his first weeks wages he brought his mum a solid silver thimble, which she passed down to me (Tom’s daughter Susan) on my eighteenth birthday.
During World War Two Tom joined the Home Guard and when he received his call up papers he joined the Royal Norfolk Regiment and fought in France and Germany. He also saw service in Ireland, Palestine and Egypt.
It was while home on leave that he first met Irene and they married on the 11th May 1946.
They started married life living with Irene’s parents in Dagenham, Essex until they were allocated a council prefab in Loughton, Essex, where they brought up their family.
Jack of all trades, master of none, Tom was a grafter and was never out of work.
He cleaned windows, worked in a butchers shop, delivered milk and drove a lorry delivering steel. In his later years he worked as an instrument mechanic teaching himself as he went along because he had no qualifications but he retired early so that he could take care of Irene who had suffered from ill health for many, many years.
Sadly Irene passed away in 1989 but Tom continued to live in Loughton with his eldest son Keith.
By this time Tom was having some health issues of his own, first being diagnosed with asbestosis and then having to undergo major surgery for an aortic anurisium but the most distressing problem for Tom was finding out that he had Macula Degeneration as his eye sight started to fail. He had a great love of books and reading and could get through five or six books in a week so as the reality that he would never read another book again set in I saw him cry for the first time.
Despite all his problems he was still managing to do most of his own cooking and cleaning but gradually we noticed him deteriorating and then came the most devastating news of all. In April 2010 Tom was told he had terminal stomach cancer and after a short battle he passed away in St Clare’s Hospice, Hastingwood; Essex on the 6th August 2010 aged 87.
My memories of dad are of a man who was fun loving and a joker at heart, always playing pranks on people.
A man who had time for everyone and would give his time freely to help anyone who needed it.
And of a dad who loved his family and was loved by his family more than I can tell.
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Basic Grey – ‘Cappella’ Patterned Paper
My Mind's Eye - '29th Street Market' Patterned Paper
G.C.D. Studios - 'Ella Blue'
Alphabet and Number Stickers
Best Dad Plaque
Computer Genorated Journaling