Died Monday 29th December 2008

SPOTLIGHT ON TOM GRUNDON

[This article is reprinted from the Weston U3A Spring 2004 newsletter as a tribute to Tom, who will be so sadly missed by many of our members.] “I love snails – we had them on the Queen Mary 2.” This typical throwaway remark revealed that Tom and his wife were lucky enough to receive an invitation to join this huge vessel’s shakedown cruise. Leaving Southampton on New Year’s Eve, they enjoyed six days of pampered luxury before the ship returned just in time to be named by the Queen.

Born in Maida Vale, London in 1922, Tom moved to Hayes in Middlesex at the age of seven. Although he passed the grammar school exam and was awarded an assisted place, his parents could not afford to send him. So he went to the local council school. Here he learnt book-keeping and shorthand. “Both skills have served me well over the years”, says Tom. He left school aged 14 and the rest of his education was picked up later at night schools and correspondence courses.

When the war started, he was 17, working for a small company developing new British inventions. He joined the Home Guard, transferring to its Red Cross section and assisting the rescue services. “During the odd air raid or so”, is how Tom modestly puts it.

Then came five and a half years in the RAF, mainly in Iraq and what was then Persia. “My principal achievement” he claims, “was to nearly die of pneumonia in 120 degrees of heat.” Happily for us, he recovered – only to be posted to Shaibah, near Basra, for another hot season.

After demob, Tom set out on his own doing the accounts and running the offices for private clients. These included a well-known royal milliner with strong connections to Christian Dior, and a solicitor. He had helped set up a travel agency, which he eventually joined. As well as being responsible for all financial matters, Tom found himself chartering aircraft, writing brochures and advertisements, issuing tickets, and seeing off passengers at airports. “The package holiday trade was a lot more hands-on in those days,” says Tom. He later became the Finance Director of the Travel Division of a large English public company. This was taken over by an international conglomerate and when he retired at the age of 60 he was the company secretary of their UK shipping group and its subsidiaries.

Tom has long been involved in local politics and charity work, including acting as a Church treasurer, school governor, and treasurer of the local Oxfam, Marriage Guidance (now Relate), and other concerns, mainly in Berkshire. He was also Finance Governor of a home for people with learning difficulties. With his late wife, Betty, he moved to Weston from Reading in 1987, where he continued with political and charitable activities. His wife died in 1997, after 49 years of happy marriage. In 2000 Tom married Grace, a family friend for 60 years.

Pet hates? -

Political correctness and most pop music.

Favourite music? - Schubert’s Trout Quintet and most Mozart.

Favourite book? - Was Pickwick Papers but nowadays a computer magazine!

Favourite character? - Scrooge. Thank you Tom for running our Computer and Ethical Issues Groups with typical efficiency.