Robert HillRobert Hill who was involved with the Hills Group for more than four decades and was a leading figure in Marlborough Golf Club for many years has died at the age of 74 years.
Mr Hill died on Thursday afternoon after suffering a long and debilitating illness and today the club flag was at half-mast out of respect for the man who was a past captain, chairman and president.
Mr Hill, who is survived by his wife Rosie and four sons, Michael, William, David and Jamie, was a dynamic man both in the business world and in his sporting life.
He was at the helm at Marlborough Golf Club from the mid-Eighties until advancing ill health forced him to stand down as president recently.
The golf club issued a statement to its members today saying: “We are very saddened to announce the death of Robert Hill.
“Robert was 74 years old. He and his family business have been constant and generous supporters of Marlborough Golf club for many years.”
Mr Hill joined the committee of the club in 1984 and chaired its development committee which oversaw the modern clubhouse on The Common. His company continues to sponsor the Wiltshire Professional Championship which continues to be played at Marlborough.
He was also a keen bowls player and represented the county.
Ernie Newell, who was the Gazette and Swindon Advertiser’s golf columnist for many years said today: “Robert was a lovely chap and made a great contribution to the club.”
Mr Hill was a grandson of Edward Hill who founded Hills of Swindon, then a brick-making business, in 1900 and which under the leadership of successive generations of the family moved into the construction and recycling business.
Robert and Rosie Hill with John Cleese and Mike HillToday the Hills Group, chaired by Robert Hill’s oldest son Michael, is one of the leading recycling groups in Britain and is responsible for refuse and recycling in Wiltshire. Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and Dorset.
Born in Swindon Robert Hill was educated at Clifton College and Bristol University where one of his cohort was John Cleese. Mr Hill was credited with introducing Cleese to comedy.
Mr and Mrs Hill have lived for many years at Eagle House on The Green in Marlborough.
Anne HarleyMother of three Ann Harley, who has died suddenly while undergoing treatment for cancer in the Churchill Hospital, Oxford, was Marlborough’s Citizen of the Year in 2010.
Tributes have poured in for the community minded mother and grandmother, who died last Friday March with members of her family at her bedside.
Ann Harley, who was born in Marlborough, was one of those people who could never say 'No' when asked to do something for her community.
Her community work, fundraising and generosity was legend said former Marlborough mayor Stewart Dobson. His mayoral ball was one of many at which Mrs Harley volunteered to run the tombola in aid of charities, usually local.
Councillor Dobson said: “She did so much for the town for many, many years. Whatever function you put on you could ask Ann Harley to help and many mayors like myself relied on her to organise the tombola at their mayoral balls.
“She was able to combine a very busy working life while doing so much for the community.”
Another former mayor, Councillor Peggy Dow, said: “She raised so much money for me at my two mayors’ balls…she couldn’t do enough for Marlborough.
“She was a workaholic but she loved Marlborough. She thought so much of our town and cared so much for Marlborough.”
Mrs Harley had helped organise the annual Christmas Day lunch for the town’s senior citizens over the last 10 years raising money towards them and helping run them in Marlborough Town Hall.
She ran the town’s oldest taxi business Marlborough Taxis, formerly called Harley Travel, along with her husband Ray.
Town councillor Justin Cook who also runs a taxi business said: “Ann was a pillar of the community.
“Ann was tough but also very sweet at the same time. We had our ups and downs but if I ever needed a job covering Ann would always oblige and vice versa.”
Ann Harley was born in Marlborough, daughter of the late Dick and Hilda Milsom and her childhood home was in Chiminage Close.
She attended St Mary’s girls school and Marlborough Grammar School leaving at 16. From the age of 19-22 she was a telephonist in the town’s telephone exchange behind the old Post Office in High Street.
At the age of 16 she joined the Territorial Army where she learned to drive, leaving shortly before her marriage.
Mr and Mrs Harley made their home at 117 London Road where their three children, Joanne, Susan and Jonathon came along. Eventually the couple had six grandchildren, Christopher, Elizabeth, Thomas, Catherine, Harrison and Fraser.
Mrs Harley always supported the town’s carnivals and at the age of 17 was a carnival queen attendant.
Carnival stalwart Ian Philpott said of her death: “This is a sad day for Marlborough…she did so much for the town.”
It is expected that St Mary’s Church will be packed for a service of celebration of her life next Friday (April 11) at 11.30am. C remation attended by members of her family only will have already taken place at Kingsdown Crematorium at Swindon.
Her sons in law Steven and Simon and two of her grandchildren, Christopher and Thomas will be pall bearers.
Joe CrookFather of six, Joe Crook, who has died at the age of 93 was a former Marlborough fire fighter who attended some of the town’s biggest blazes including the fire in 1966 that reduced the Polly Tea Rooms to a single storey.
Ronald Victor Crook -- who was always known by his childhood nickname of Joe -- lived in Cherry Orchard in Marlborough where he spent the majority of his life.
His family moved to the estate when he was 11 years old and latter to the former Sebastopol Square – where ATS Euro Tyres is today – but he later returned to Cherry Orchard after marrying.
He was born on February 11 1920, the second oldest of five children and the last one surviving.
Mr Crook went to St Peter’s Boys School before winning a scholarship to Marlborough Grammar School.
On leaving school he worked for a period as an assistant to the professional Cyril Brooke at Marlborough Golf Club.
Then he went to work at Sunnyhill Farm at Oare but with World War 2 looming Mr Crook joined the Territorial Army and in September the same year, 1939, he was called up into the Wiltshire Regiment.
He was never sent into the battlefields of Europe and instead was posted to India where thousands of British troops were on the ready in case they were needed for the war against the Japanese.
Mr Crook’s unit was sent to several different Indian cities and he later loved to regale his family, said elder son Bob, with tales of his experiences on the sub-continent. He caught Malaria four times which kept him from active service.
After being demobbed Mr Crook went into the building trade and worked for a number of local building companies but in 1975 he became self-employed as a bricklayer.
At one stage he was employed as a maintenance man at Pelham Puppets, the former Marlborough factory that exported millions of puppets all over the world. He also worked for a while on the maintenance team at Marlborough College.
One job he was particularly proud of was helping build the wall at the Salisbury Road entrance to the Recreation Ground to commemorate the Coronation in 1953.
Mr Crook met his wife Queenie, who died in 1998, at a dance in the Town Hall and they made their home in Cherry Orchard where they raised their family of six.
After his demob from the Army Mr Crook joined the former National Fire Service – later to become the Wiltshire Fire Brigade – and as a retained fire fighter for almost three decades was involved in tackling many of the big fires that have dogged the town over the years.
He loved darts and was chairman of the Marlborough Darts League for some years, and he was a member of the town’s two RAOB lodges.
In recent years, said son Bob, old age took an increasing hold on Mr Crook and he needed carers at his home before finally he was moved to Aldbourne Nursing Home where he died on Boxing Day.
In lieu of flowers at his cremation his family asked for donations to the Jubilee Centre.
Mary and Tony GrayTown councillors at Marlborough stood in silence on Monday in memory of former mayoress Mary Gray who died on Friday at the age of 73.
Welsh-born Mrs Gray who was one of 15 children died at Hungerford Newtown Nursing Home where she had been looked after since August last year as the dementia she had suffered for seven years worsened.
Previously she was looked after at her High Street home by her husband Tony helped by their daughter Vicky, son Jerry and his wife Julie.
Her death was the third tragedy this year for former mayor Mr Gray whose daughter Vicky Philpott, 48, and mother Sylvia Gray, 96, died within 24 hours of each other in March.
Mrs Gray was mayoress twice, in 1972/73 where her husband was last but one mayor of the former Borough Council and again in 1990/91 when he was mayor of the successor town council.
She also supported her husband when he served on the former Kennet District Council for many years from its inception in 1974 and was as its chairman for four years.
Mother of two Mrs Gray had the distinction of being the only person ever to be mayoress of both the borough and town councils and also the wife of a Kennet chairman.
Standing at a diminutive 5ft 1in Mrs Gray was a tower of strength for her husband in his early election campaigns and he said that when he was first elected to the borough council in 1966 it was largely due to her persuasive canvassing.
“She delivered my election leaflets up and down Cherry Orchard and Orchard Road pushing Vicky in a bog coach-built pram and very heavily pregnant with Jerry.
“I think people felt sorry for her and that was probably why they voted for me,” said Mr Gray.
Mrs Gray also played a pivotal role in the family’s former Ducks Toy Shop in High Street, managing it virtually single handed for years while her husband was busy with council activities.
Mr and Mrs Gray were married in 1964 in the village church at Oare where her husband’s family ran a garage and taxi business.
In was due to an accident Mr Gray suffered when driving from Oare to Marlborough that led to their meeting.
Mr Gray said: “I had a car accident at the top of Granham Hill when I was hit head-on by a lorry which put me in Savernake Hospital for a month.
“Mary was nursing at Savernake Hospital in those days although when I arrived she had been sent to work at Princess Margaret’s Hospital in Swindon for a few weeks.
“She returned to Savernake Hospital and I can remember sitting at the end of a long ward with my leg in plaster up to my hip waiting for an x-ray.
“I saw her walking towards me and all I could think was that she looked like an angel.”
However she did not reciprocate his feelings at first and it was after meeting several times at dances in the town at which nurses were in great demand that they started courting.
Mr Gray said: “We still have a cutting from an old Marlborough Times with the headline Nurse Marries Local Man!”
Daughter Vicky was born while the couple were living in Oare, and after they joined the family toy and cycle business in Marlborough they moved to live over the shop where Jerry was born.
One of the few perks Mrs Gray had for her hard work as a mayoress was being invited to a Buckingham Palace garden party where she was thrilled to meet the Queen.
On a second visit to a palace garden party when her husband was chairman of Kennet District Council, Mrs Gray took daughter Vicky with her.
Mrs Gray is survived by her husband Tony, son Jerry and his wife Julie, by son-in-law Ian Philpott and her four grand daughters, Kim, Jo, Mollie and Harriet.
The date for her funeral which will be in St Mary’s Church has not been confirmed.