It is with great sadness that Senior Past Master Tim Wilkin died on Saturday evening, 16 July 2016. Tim became a Freeman of the Broderers Company on 12 May 1948, clothed in the Livery on 15 June that year, was admitted to the Court of Assistants on 13 June 1963 and served as Master in 1966/67. His son-in-law, Past Master Brigadier David Chaundler OBE, delivered the following eulogy at the memorial service:
TIM WILKIN - EULOGY
When Margot first took me to meet her parents I was immediately impressed by the warm welcome I received and what a friendly and welcoming home 8 Davigdor Road was. I was certainly not the first to feel this as Tim and Reneé Jean were always wonderful hosts and even the most nervous guest would be quickly put at their ease. And that is how we will always remember Tim. The warm and generous host and above all the loving family man with an enchanting smile.
Born in the dark days of the First World War Tim was very long sighted. Something his parents did not realise until one day he tripped over the cat.
Tim’s parents were friends of AA Milne and Tim is the Timothy Tim of AA Milne’s Cradle Song:
O Timothy Tim
Has ten pink toes,
And ten pink toes
Has Timothy Tim.
They go with him
Wherever he goes,
And wherever he goes
They go with him.
And so on.
Tim was educated at Harrow and clearly enjoyed his time there and was always proud of being an Old Harrovian. But his eyesight meant that he was not a natural sportsman, but he fenced and rowed.
From there to Cambridge University to read German and French, he coxed the St Catherine’s boat. In Fryeburg he witnessed and was disturbed by the Nazis. This would not have been the only reason he enlisted in the Army - actually he enlisted just before the outbreak of War - but with his eyesight he could easily have sat out the War as a civilian. But that was not Tim’s way. He joined the Worcester Regiment. One would have thought, with his languages, he should have been employed where he could have used them. But Tim was not one to push himself forward and the Army, in its wisdom, sent him to East Africa to train Askaris.
He loved East Africa and his Askaris and needed little persuasion to tell of his time out there. I particularly remember his tale of how Askaris with fixed bayonets would get the bayonets tangled-up with their extended earlobes.
Back in England at the end of the War he was tempted to return to Africa, but he met and married Reneé Jean and settled down to a very happy family life in Brighton. Margot, Georgina and Alison came along; not to mention and a bull dog followed by two apricot pugs and a black pug. Apart from his family and the pugs Tim loved his garden and was still pottering about in it until only a few months before his death. Also, who can forget the conservatory; over full of plants and loathed to part with any of them.
He could be a man of few words and did not particularly like the telephone. Alison recalls, when she was first living in London, Tim rang her up. The conversation when something like this:
“Hello; that you”
“How are you”
“We are fine too. Goodbye”.
If there was one thing he was intolerant of it was sermons and after dinner speeches that went on for more than ten minutes. You could tell he was bored when he started to clean his glasses.
Yes, I am watching the time!!
Tim came from a City family. His grandfather having been Lord Mayor of London. He joined the family firm of yeast traders and opened-up a wine trading subsidiary. He loved his wine and was very knowledgeable and part of the hospitality of Davigdor Road was the excellent wines.
When the family firm was sold Tim became a working name at Lloyds, but his main City involvement were his Livery Companies. He became a Parish Clerk, being the Clerk of St James Duke’s Place in the Aldgate and then, in 1984, the Master. He followed his father into the Haberdashers, but his real love was the Broderers, which he joined as a Liveryman in June 1948 becoming the Master in 1966. For many years he was the Senior Past Master and very jealous of the Senior Past Master’s badge or jewel as he called it. He was still coming to Broderer’s event until he was 96.
Meanwhile, perhaps ahead of his time, he believed his daughters should have a proper education and sent them to Roedean. One day, on returning the girls late to School, he collided with the wrought iron gate at the bottom of the Roedean drive. The gates were undamaged, but not so the Citröen.
But where educating his daughters was concerned, probably more relevant, is that the Easter holidays were spent touring different parts of Europe. Perhaps the most memorable event was the visit to Malta. It was Good Friday and the car could not be off-loaded. Tim refused to be parted from his car and the ship sailed for Benghazi with the family still aboard.
He took his three young daughters to the Benghazi souq, but very quickly realised his mistake and a rapid taxi ride to the nearest five star hotel ensued.
In the early 70s he and Reneé Jean bought an apartment in Anzére in Switzerland. They loved Switzerland and had had their honeymoon at Lugano. Every year they spent a month in the spring in Anzére langlauf skiing before the snows melted and then another month in late summer walking and generally relaxing and watching the world go by in the village. As they both could speak German and French they were able to make many friends in Switzerland. Malcolm Bone, who lived in Zurich at that time, recalls frequent very convivial visits with plenty of good food and wine.
So how do we remember dear Tim. I think there can be no greater accolade than that he was first and foremost a family man. He was very happily married for 69 years and, together with Reneé Jean, brought-up three lovely daughters. Our hearts go out to them as they do to Bella, Alex and Nick - his three grandchildren.
How else do we remember him? The Broderers’ song could not put it better. In fact the first verse could have been written with him in mind.
Oh! give us your plain dealing fellows, Who never from honesty shrink, Not thinking of all they shall tell us, But telling us all that they think.
And the beginning of the second verse.
Truth from man flows like wine from a bottle, His free-spoken heart's a full cup;
Broderer, husband, father, grandfather, friend and generous host. Tim we shall miss you.
But one thing I am sure of is that when he arrive at the Pearly Gates St Peter will be waiting for him with a very good vintage claret.
Brigadier David Chaundler OBE