At 84, estate agent Terry calls it quits!

Terry Hilliard
Terry Hilliard
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HE’S chased Russians in the cold war, flown jets in the RAF, taught business economic skills around the world and survived diphtheria as a child – now this estate agent is looking forward to enjoying some peace in his retirement.

Terry Hilliard has been working as a partner at Braeburn Independent Estate Agent, in North End, for the past three years. And at the grand age of 84 he’s finally decided to call it a day.

The Southdown Bus offices in North End which are now Braeburn Independent Estate Agents Police officer Fred Crasswell, left, and Terry's brother-in-law Eric Tharby taken in 1933

The Southdown Bus offices in North End which are now Braeburn Independent Estate Agents Police officer Fred Crasswell, left, and Terry's brother-in-law Eric Tharby taken in 1933

Terry, from Baffins, said: ‘In many ways I’ve retired five or six times in my life but I’ve always found it boring and picked up some other interest.

‘I haven’t had a proper holiday since 1962, I might take one now. I have eight weeks to go until I’m 85 so it’s about time I took a break.’

Terry, who has three great-grandchildren, four grandchildren and three children, is due to cut down his hours in the next fortnight, but the firm will continue after he leaves with his son Guy, who is one of three other partners.

The charismatic grandad has had a long and varied career, starting as an apprentice in the air force at the age of 16. He went on to become a pilot, training in Canada, flying jets in the Philippines and Africa, before becoming an instructor teaching the air squadron at Oxford University.

Terry's log book and a photo of the cloud he flew through on September 11th 1958 in the mid Pacific

Terry's log book and a photo of the cloud he flew through on September 11th 1958 in the mid Pacific

Terry also had a stint as a reconnaissance pilot chasing Russians and even survived sampling hydrogen bombs in the Pacific.

He met his wife Sally in Adelaide and married in May 1959 – and the pair are still married today.

In 1969, he left the air force and became an insurance broker in Fareham, with his businesses Hilliard Smith in the High Street, then later Hilliard Wallace, both firms being successful.

The couple spent 18 months running the Tudor Court Hotel in Southsea, in a period described by Terry as ‘akin to Fawlty Towers’.

Terry at his desk at Braeburn Independent Estate Agents in North End. ''Picture: Sarah Standing (170453-5075)

Terry at his desk at Braeburn Independent Estate Agents in North End. ''Picture: Sarah Standing (170453-5075)

In 1980 he returned to Australia teaching business skills while also running a coffee shop close to the Sydney Opera House.

From 1987 he started teaching for the International Institute of Social and Economic Sciences where he became dean of studies – retiring in 2011. 

He moved back to his home town of Portsmouth in 2011 and three years ago he was approached by a previous partner of Braeburn – and due to his love of property – he took on the new challenge.

Terry said: ‘I had bought property in the past, in fact I have had 52 different addresses over the years.

‘I have been on the move ever since I was evacuated during the war. The estate agents was a great fit. My first house I bought cost £900. I sold it three years later for £1,200. I thought I was doing ever so well.’

Terry says he has enjoyed his stint as an estate agent, especially the customer service part, and that he was proud to see Braeburn win an award last year for its customer service.

‘I have been giving customer service all my life in all sorts of ways,’ he said. ‘Estate agents have a reputation for being rude and arrogant but we are nothing like that. We put our heart and soul into it and that’s what makes it work.’