Saturday, December 22, 2007

Neil Thompson

This isn’t our ‘advertised’ Christmas posting yet, unfortunately, because, once again, we’re the bearers of bad news. There’s something about Christmas that makes personal tragedies all the more poignant, perhaps never more so than today. This afternoon we received a telephone call from Tony Bloomer of the Fylde Country Life Preservation Society to tell us that our old friend and colleague, Neil Thompson, passed away last night, having been suffering from a brain tumour for some time now.
It’s going to seem odd not having him around. It’ll certainly seem a lot quieter. There’ll be fewer arguments for one thing. They were the ‘right’ sort of arguments, I ought to point out, mostly about history and archaeology and all the stuff that, when push comes to shove, doesn’t affect the way you feel about someone.
If the truth be known, Michelle and I have always had a soft spot for Neil. It was hard not to, really.
He was a larger-than-life character who always made us laugh, from his opinions on the bench at Catterall Council, to his work with the cub scouts, his dedication to the Fylde Country Life Museum and, of course, his chairmanship of Wyre Archaeology. Neil, Michelle, myself and Tony Bloomer created Wyre Archaeology a few years ago, and Neil’s own passion for the subject never wavered once, right up until the end.
We didn’t always see eye to eye, of course. In fact, quite often, we’d frighten innocent ramblers taking a quiet stroll down Grizedale Beck or trying to drink their coffees outside the Priory in Scorton with our ‘in depth discussions’. Nonetheless, virtually every weekend for the last few years, Neil and Michelle and I have ventured out into the darkest, dustiest corners of the Fylde and Wyre in search of our history, prepared for debate and a grand day out.
As Neil always said, “It’s a good job we’re not all the same, otherwise we’d never get anywhere.”
I’ve decided against posting a photograph, opting instead for the drawing below. It shows Neil holding a grain tester. I originally drew it for one of the information boards in the Fylde Country Life Museum. Neil never told me whether he liked the drawing or not, but I suspect he did because, after he’d seen it, he always tried to take the centre stage in every other drawing. On one occasion he even rolled up his trouser legs, donned a pinafore and climbed inside a dolly-tub…just to illustrate how such a device would have worked, you understand.
He was a big character, and he’s going to leave a big gap in a lot of people’s lives.


John said...

Brian and Michelle,

I was sorry to hear of your loss... I've heard a lot about Neil, but never met him, of course. This posting and illustration are a very nice tribute to the man.


Brian Hughes said...

Cheers John,

To be honest we've been waiting for that phonecall for the last few weeks but it was still a bit of a shock when it arrived. Especially two days before Christmas. My heart goes out to his wife and kids.