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Tom Jourdan (Ridgeway 1958-62)

Tom was born on the 20th August 1944 in the Cresswell Coombe Maternity Hospital in Dumfries Scotland. Soon after Tom was born the family moved to High Wycombe where Tom’s Father joined his father in Law and brother in Law at Parker Knoll.

Tom went to prep’ school in 1953 at Oakley Hall in Cirencester and to Mill Hill in 1958 where he was Head of Ridgeway House. Tom was not an enthusiastic games player, but he did Captain an unbeaten 2nd XV ,

In the summer of 1958, Sir Colin & Lady Gubbins took him to their holiday home in Leverburgh on the Isle of Harris and taught Tom to shoot, fish and stalk. This was a turning point and was to define his life.

Before any thing else Tom was a countryman; he made Harris his spiritual home and it was there, on the river, in the butts or just walking in the countryside that he was truly happy.

When Tom left Mill Hill with an academic record that restored the prestige of the family after the dubious performance of his elder brother, he took an engineering sandwich course at Northampton College in London and Allen’s, pump manufacturers in Bedford. He was particularly grateful to Harold Wilson who elevated Northampton College from a polytechnic to University thus upgrading Tom’s diploma to a Degree.

Whilst in London Tom shared a flat in Lownes Street with Malcolm Archer where Tom and his English Sheppard dog, Zak became a part of swinging London. In London he met Sue and they were married in Norfolk on September 6th 1969 .

Tom started at Parker Knoll in 1968 .In 1969 he was given the job of closing Dancer & Hearne and after the fire in 1970 at the High Wycombe factory of Parker Knoll, he was given the job of opening it up again. He and Sue then spent the best part of a year in the United States first at Pontiac a manufacturer of recliners in Illinois and later in California where he worked at Brunners a leading furniture retailer.

He managed both the High Wycombe and Chipping Norton factories; in 1982 he was put in as Managing Director of Nathan after that company’s acquisition by the Group and then in 1986 he became Managing Director of Parker Knoll.

People in the factory recall Tom;

“ Full of ideas; firm on what he wanted to achieve; relaxed but professional;

Dealt with everyone at the same level; fair; informal; very self sufficient but sometimes diffident.

Tom was at some time President of the British Furniture Manufactureres Association, Chairman of the Branded Furniture Society, a Freeman of the City of London and Liveryman and member of the Court of the Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers. He would have become the Master of the Company in the Millennium year but his instincts as a Countryman persuaded him to step aside.

Tom was also a Founder Trustee and Treasurer of The Frederick Parker Foundation. But Tom’s real love was in the country side and in the Isle of Harris.

He fished on the Windrush and the Test and was active in a number of village activities and organisations.

However Harris was his spiritual home and Sue the friend he most enjoyed sharing it with. They both set out to make Kyles House a comfortable modern home; they fenced in the 90 acres surrounding the house which overlooks the Sound of Harris and planted over 15,000 trees. Tom & Sue worked on developing the salmon and sea trout fishing in the Obbe fishing system.

Tom accomplished many things in a life cut short. He has a fine family and a fitting memorial here in this beautiful Cotswold village of Shipton- under- Wychwood. He retired at the top of his profession with a record for integrity, fairness and honesty. He will be remembered for these qualities, also for his laugh which could be heard from the other side of the factory!

We mourn him for the company we have missed but we remember him for the times we have shared.

Martin Jourdan (Ridgeway 1954-59)

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