Reg Thomas: Honitonian, former mayor and man of humour

PUBLISHED: 06:33 21 January 2009 | UPDATED: 22:55 15 June 2010

HE had a keen sense of humour and was often accused of not taking life seriously but, when it came to organising things, the late Reg Thomas was an expert.

HE had a keen sense of humour and was often accused of not taking life seriously but, when it came to organising things, the late Reg Thomas was an expert.He could organise anything, from Honiton's historic gymkhana to caravan rallies.Mr Thomas, who died in Treliske Hospital following a fall while staying with his only son Simon in Cornwall, became Honiton's youngest ever mayor when he was installed in 1968. He was then in his early 40s.He died on January 2 and was 83, leaving wife Beryl, son Simon, daughter-in-law Margaret and two grandsons, Alistair and James. Mr Thomas was a former retained firefighter in Honiton and formerly served on the committee of Honiton and District Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and had been an active member of Honiton Twinning Association.Born at 39 High Street, Mr Thomas was a Honitonian and, throughout his life, only ever lived at three addresses in the town.His second was 92 High Street, 'home' of family business J J Shepherd. After serving an apprenticeship at his grandfather's jewellery shop, undertaking repairs, Mr Thomas eventually inherited the business.He stood down from Honiton Borough Council in 1970 at the age of 45, telling older members he didn't want to end up like them!He had been chairman of the council's housing committee and was formerly a member of Honiton Air Training Corps.Due to an ear problem, Mr Thomas was not permitted to join the armed forces during the Second World War. Instead, he was conscripted to work in a factory.He was being treated for the ear defect in the former hospital at Southernhay, Exeter, when the city was heavily bombed during the Blitz.Sent on his way, to make room for bombing casualties, he 'lost' three days of his life.Even to this day, his family is not certain where he went. What they do know is that he eventually made it home.He met his wife, the former Beryl Snow, when she moved to Honiton from Exeter to take up a teaching post at the then Honiton Secondary School.They were introduced at a dance and were inseparable thereafter.Mr Thomas retired in 1987 and he and Beryl moved to Milldale Crescent.Beryl persuaded him to take up caravanning, which became a passion.The couple travelled all over the world, extensively in Europe.Brigadier Nigel Speller led Mr Thomas's funeral service, held at Exeter Crematorium on Thursday last week.His son, Simon, an accountant, led the tributes.Town and district councillor Peter Halse led a minute's silence in memory of Mr Thomas at Honiton Town Council's January meeting.Beryl says she is bearing up, but added: "We were inseparable."Beryl and Simon Thomas spoke to the Herald about their loss at Mr Thomas's family home, in Milldale Crescent, Honiton, last Saturday.


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