IT was with such sadness that family, friends and neighbours heard of the death of Tom Ward who passed away at his home on March 7.
Tom, aged 86, was born at Woodborough, Notts, as the third of four sons to Nevil and Annie Ward. Educated locally, he left school at the age of 14 and got a job as a gardener’s assistant on a local estate, which included taking vegetables and game shot on the estate to the cook each day.
That was probably where his love of gardening and shooting came from.
At the onset of war he became a market gardener’s assistant for his two uncles and was also a member of the Home Guard.
In due course, he took over the family business and built it up growing a wide range of vegetables, salads and strawberries – taking them to the wholesale market in Nottingham – called the ‘Country Market.’
Brussels sprouts were the main winter vegetables all picked by hand and to this day he has always had vegetables in his garden.
In 1949, the family had one of the first grey Ferguson tractors in Woodborough.
During Tom’s school days, and as a teenager and young man he was very active in village life in Woodborough and was known to all as ‘Tucker Ward.’
As young boys, he and his brothers were in the church choir, attending St Swithin’s Church three times every Sunday, and later they were all bell ringers.
They also played in the local village brass band with their father; and the boys played in the football team.
Tom enjoyed playing darts and played for the Notts County Supporters Darts Team and was a member of the local “20 Club,” going to Paris with them which proved to be his one and only time in an aeroplane!
In 1944, Tom married Margaret Greaves from the neighbouring village of Lowdham.
Her father was a dairy farmer and had the milk round in Woodborough and she helped to deliver milk during school and college holidays, hence the couple met.
She supported him in the market garden business over the years.
They had three children: Jean – who was married to Chris; Richard, and Kathryn, married to Stuart. Richard worked alongside Tom but was tragically killed in a car accident at the age of 17 which was an enormous blow to the family.
Sadly, Margaret died in 1976 – the couple having been married for almost 32 years.
Tom had always been interested in shooting and only a few years ago gave his 12 bore shot gun to his grandson who is also a shooting man, living in the borders of Scotland.
Ploughing was his passion.
In the early days he led the horses up and down the hilly fields before moving onto tractor ploughing.
He enjoyed entering competitions and in 1950 was presented with a certificate and medal, the only time a medal was given.
Recently he gave them to his other grandson who now has his own grey Fergie and competes in ploughing matches himself.
It was in the autumn of 1976 that Andrea, along with a friend, went along as ‘potato pickers’ for Tom to earn some extra cash and the following summer picking strawberries.
As time went on, they grew close and became a couple in October 1977 and married in November 1978.
Needing a change of direction in his life, Tom decided at the age of 54 to retire and bought a house at Huttoft where they spent the next 18 months renovating it themselves.
However, Tom craved for more land and spotting a bungalow for sale in Wragby, they went to view and he decided it was exactly what he wanted so they moved in June 1981.
A local plumber and electrician were employed and the property was ripped apart with Tom, Andrea and her son Andrew living in utter chaos for weeks but, they were forging friendship with the locals and suddenly Wragby became home to them and they never looked back.
Tom was in his elements with land and space for 100 chickens, two calves, two horses, and a garden which resembled a mini market garden!
Tom’s eldest brother, a mid upper gunner and navigator in a Lancaster during the war, was shot down and buried in the Reichwald Forest War Cemetery in Germany.
Andrea’s friend, living in Germany, was close to the cemetery and so they decided to make their first trip abroad, in 1983.
It was a great success and they continued to go every year, sometimes as often as three times a year and always for Remembrance Day.
Sadly, they were not able to make the visit in November 2011 due to ill health.
Tom enjoyed sailing from Hull to Rotterdam decided it was time to ‘have a go’ at a cruise.
Their first one was in 1984 on the Canberra, and that was the start of a new venture for him.
They went onto enjoying 25 cruises, Tom’s favourite always being Norway as far as Spitsbergen but the most memorable being five and a half weeks to the Caribbean and Amazon.
He was so at ‘home’ on the ships.
Towards the mid 1990s, Tom joined Andrea as a member of Notts Aid Convoys and began supporting her in fundraising towards their trips to Bosnia (twice) Kosovo and Romania.
Wragby gave tremendous support and helped them raise £14,000 over the four years and provided so much vital aid for them to take.
Tom was the oldest member of the group by some 20 years but, despite two artificial hips was on an even keel with the younger members when driving the seven and a half ton lorry with Andrea.
He was so admired by all, especially when sleeping rough in the lorry – no luxuries at all!
After the turn of the century, his health began a downward spiral.
He suffered three periods of heart failure, having a pacemaker, and replaced when it failed.
Each time he bounced back with determination.
Driving was still important and he became a voluntary car driver at the Wragby Resource Centre and was in his elements when getting trips to Nottingham and Leicester – confident on his ‘own’ patch.
His hips became badly worn and replacements were not an option so he relied on walking sticks and eventually a wheelchair.
Cruising continued till 2009 when the insurance greatly outweighed the cost of the trip.
Sadly, time came when his eyes gave him concern and he was diagnosed with glaucoma and cataracts and had to give up driving.
In his 86 years, he had lived his life in ‘two parts,’ both full of hard work, sadness, determination, adventure and much laughter and will be sadly missed by so many.
Tom is now survived by his wife, Andrea Ward; daughters Jean Hobbs and Kathryn Wiltshire and six grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
The Service of Thanksgiving for his life was held at All Saints Church, Wragby on Tuesday, March 20, followed by cremation.
It was officiated by the Rev Mark Holden.
Funeral arrangements were by J Marshall of Market Rasen.
Family mourners: Andrea Ward, wife; Jean Hobbs, daughter; Kathryn and Stuart Wiltshire , daughter and son-in-law; Andrew and Wanda Hobbs – grandson; Nick Wiltshire and Elaine, Richard Wiltshire, Faye Wiltshire and Adam, Beth Wiltshire, grandchildren and partners; Andrew and Julie Cox, stepson; Eric and Enid Ward, brother and sister-in-law; David Ward, nephew; Kath and Alan Yates, sister-in-law; David and Diane Yates, nephew; Philip and Sarah, nephew; Nigel and Gill Bosworth, brother-in-law; John Greaves (organist) nephew; Roger Burton;
Michael and Sue Kirkham, also representing the family.
Other mourners:Anne and Bob Buffham; Mrs J Thompson; Mr Hobbs, also representing Mr and Mrs Green; John Boothby, also representing Mr and Mrs P South and family; Mr and Mrs Ian Bosworth; Rita Dixon; Mr A Johnson; Barbara Hopper; Mr and Mrs J Johnson; Mr and Mrs Barry Percival; Malcolm Calvert; Mr and Mrs Ernest Dunthorne; Mr and Mrs Hugh Bourn, also representing the Bourn family; Mr M Fisk; Tony Williams; Geoff Ward, also representing Mrs M Ward; Pauline Lawson; Mr and Mrs S Hunt; Mrs S Wiltshire; Mr and Mrs S Tooley; Doreen Williams; Gill Garrill, also representing Tony Garrill; Mr and Mrs Roy Shuttleworth; Dorothy Warr; Mrs E Taylor, also representing 1st Wragby Brownies; Mrs S Siddup, also representing the family; Joyce Stott, also representing the Stott family; Kay Franklin; Catherine and Mark Raynes; Bob Clark – acting verger; Chris Lamming; Michaela Cox; Maureen Selvey; Karen Thompson, also representing the family; Claire Buffham; Kathy Dunn, also representing Shaun and Darryl; Barbara Stubbs, also representing John Stubbs; Steven Bosworth; Laura Thomas; Louise Bosworth; Brenda and David Bodily, also representing Wragby and District Helping Hands; Ann Green; John and Linda Bell; Julie Johnson; Mr and Mrs R Rhodes; Mr and Mrs Hill; Mr T Lee; Valerie and Andrew Cooper; Mr J Houlden and family; Mrs J Lomas; Jenny and Geoff Bolton; Alan Naylor; Ann Harris; Peter Phillipson; Paul Richardson; Eileen Rushby; Alan Bruntlett; Sue Dixon, also representing Kevin Dixon; Tim Godfrey; Bernard Godfrey; Mrs L Stephenson, also representing Keith Stephenson; Jeanne Greenwood – CCG; Mr and Mrs Montgomery; Roz and Doug Wiltshire; Sarah Ewington; Fred Wickert; Sandra and John Turner; Ken Davison; Jean Tring; Mrs M Briggs; Mr R Briggs; Mr an Mrs Knight; Mrs J Perkins; Roz Gough, also representing Neville and Mary Gough; Eileen Espin; Victor Nash, also representing Edith Nash; Jane Wright- also representing Mr Graham Wright.