‘It’s exercise, be kind and happy!’ says Tom, smiling.
Born on April 22, 1918, Thomas Victor Hyom grew up in Widley Road, Stamshaw, Portsmouth,with his five older brothers before joining the Royal Navy at 16.
Starting out at HMS St Vincent, Gosport, Tom embarked on a successful 32-year career reaching the rank of Master-at-arms, during which he served in the Second World War aboard HMS Cossack as a Leading Seaman at the second Battle of Narvik. He was flash blinded but his sight was gradually restored. Tom was awarded the Arctic Star.
Tom met his future wife Alice in London while on leave in 1939 and the couple married in 1940. The Hyoms were inseparable for 61 years until Alice’s death in 2001.
Upon leaving the navy, Tom oversaw the building and security of the Arndale Centre in Nottingham, the second biggest shopping complex in the country at the time. He went on to manage the complex for 10 years before moving to Dorset where he managed Poole’s Arndale Centre until his retirement in 1983.
Having now celebrated his 103rd birthday, Tom is right on track to achieving his goal of 110. He believes exercise is essential and he enjoys exercising three to four times a day, both in his room and in group exercise classes at his home at Wellington Vale, Denmead.
Breda O’Doherty, senior activity co-ordinator at Wellington Vale, organised a garden party for Tom to be visited by his daughter, Maureen, and son-in-law Bob Dunkley. It was extra-special considering the family celebrated over video call in 2020 because of the ongoing pandemic.
Breda says: ‘Tom is such a special person and it was an honour to be celebrating his 103rd birthday with him.
‘Our chef made him a fabulous cake to represent his time at sea and the residents enjoyed a tea party and a sing-song with him to mark the occasion. We all shared stories and Tom talked about how much he enjoyed his time in the navy, in particular, helping others during the Second World War.’
Tom added: ‘I had a lovely day. It was great to see my daughter, Maureen and son-in-law, Bob and to spend time with them on my birthday. Thank you to Wellington Vale staff for my party.
‘I feel great at 103 – the key is to be kind and happy!’