Tributes to respected Upper Eden builder with a love of horses

Date: Monday 20th March 2017
Tom Wilson
Tom Wilson

TRIBUTES have been paid following the death of a 64-year-old Eden builder who had a lifelong love of horses.

John Edwin Wilson, who was better known as Tom, was born in Northallerton, North Yorkshire, and moved to Great Musgrave when he was nine.

His parents, Jonnie and Lucy, who still live in the village, ran the New Inn between 1968 and 1972, and he also had an older sister, Margaret.

He attended Langrigg School, Warcop, before going on to Kirkby Stephen Grammar School.

After leaving school he worked for Parkin Bell builders, in Warcop, and briefly ran the company after the owner died.

Tom was self-employed by the age of 21 and worked in the area as a general builder — he was very proud of the fact that he never had to advertise for work, with his reputation for quality workmanship being spread by word of mouth.

He worked on a number of projects in Great Musgrave, including several house extensions, a garage and a bus shelter. He later spent 10 years gradually converting existing agricultural buildings in Dufton into holiday accommodation and, until June last year, he spent time working to repair a property at The Sands, Appleby, which was damaged during the floods of Storm Desmond.

Tom married Barbara Ewin, who lived at the Stag Inn, Gullom, near Milburn, at St. Patrick’s Church, Bampton Grange, near Shap, in 1980.

He finished work on their Great Musgrave home, Glendene, in 1986 and the couple had three children — Leanne in 1985, Aimee in 1988 and Carrie in 1992. Their middle daughter continued his love of horses.

Tom’s father encouraged his equine interest from an early age and, between 1975 and 1985, both he and Barbara used to take part in regular carriage driving competitions with a single horse.

As well as Lowther show, they competed at Perth, Windsor, Holker Hall, Kelso and Tatton Park, Cheshire. During that time they picked up a number of first place trophies as well as regularly being placed second and third.

In his spare time Tom enjoyed making garden furniture and tinkering with his van and tractors. For several years he was a member of Musgrave Parish Council.

In 2013, he rediscovered the joy of riding when he took part in an experience day, and later bought a Friesian horse called Tony Mate.

In 2014, he was diagnosed with a very rare cancer in his bladder but received the all-clear later that same year.

However, last July he was diagnosed with a brain tumour and died peacefully with his family by his side in Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary on Monday, 27th February.

His funeral, which featured a horse drawn hearse, was held at St. Theobald’s church, Great Musgrave, and was well attended, with an estimated 100 people inside and up to 200 more outside.

Barbara said Tom was a “quiet and caring” man who “wasn’t flash” and did not want fancy holidays. She added: “He was just happy with what he had and occasional weekends away. He had a lot of friends and a lot of respect from people because of the quality of his work.”

The family is hoping to carry out a number of events in the future to raise funds for the Brain Tumour Charity. In December, Carrie raised £3,000 after she organised a tea party in the village hall and she is hoping to take part in the London Marathon next month.