Local Face: Tom Walsh
Tom was born in Lytham St Anne’s, Lancashire in 1955. His father was serving in the RAF at nearby Wharton. This was the start of a peripatetic lifestyle with the family moving to Rufforth, Liverpool, Bridgenorth, Swinderby, Hemswell, Tobruk, El Adem and Blackpool. While the moving disrupted friendships and education, Tom’s mum could make a home pop up just about anywhere.
Self reliance, a love of books and of the great outdoors was instilled in Tom from his earliest years, by parents who greatly valued these things.
Tom arrived in Wendover when his dad was posted from RAF El Adem to RAF Halton in 1969. The move from the Sahara to the Chilterns was a bit of a culture shock, but proved a welcome one.
Tom’s schooldays ended at the age of 15. His education started then. Jobs in bookbinding, welding, a spell as a coal man and van driver and as a road maintenance operative. Bucks CC Highways Department provided a generous training scheme that allowed Tom to progress from labouring, through City and Guilds, to highway management, engineering and project management.
In the 60’s and 70’s entertainment revolved around music. Tom was a very early member of Friars music club in Aylesbury. Friars catered for the rather hairy aficionados of prog rock with a bit of folk and blues music thrown in. Tom was a hairy aficionado.
Tom’s parents left home when he was 17. The RAF posted them to Chivenor in North Devon and then to Brawdy in South Wales.
Wendover exerted a strong hold on Tom. Friends and career were a powerful draw, so he found lodgings in South St and then later in Perry St.
And then there was Ann. Ann who Tom had first met at John Colet School and who was/is, quite simply, the love of his life. So, in 1975 Tom and Ann married in the church of St Michael and All Angels, Halton. Married life started out in Aylesbury, though Wendover remained home and moving back there was a prime objective.
In 1980 Tom and Ann started Plantscapes Local. The company supplies and maintains plant displays for business and offers advice on staff wellbeing.
In 1985, once again Wendover became home to Ann, Tom and Siobhan, their then two year old daughter and, two days after they moved in, Verity was born.
The following years were happy, busy and rewarding. The business prospered, the kids progressed through Wendover’s schools. Tom’s interest in offshore sailing, photography and writing were the catalyst for a number of memorable sailing adventures.
In 2010 Tom was, together with a friend, Robert Duggan, co-opted onto the Wendover Parish Council. Tom often says that he didn’t know that the Parish Councils existed and then he joined it.
HS2 was just being proposed and it seemed to be a threat to Wendover, and the Parish Council (PC) seemed to be a body that could give the community a voice to stand up for itself.
The Clocktower was a bit wonky and the Manor Waste needed a bit of a refit and these and other smaller engineering jobs suited Tom’s skill set.
Tom is now the chairman of Wendover PC, and is a passionate advocate for PCs. He is convinced that anyone who wants to make a better community should join or at least engage with a PC.
They offer communities direct access to expertise, funding and other like minded groups.
Tom is now preparing to stand for the New Buckinghamshire Council, as an Independent candidate, in the May 7th elections. He sees this new unified Council model, with its emphasis on local decision making, as a great opportunity for both Wendover and for Buckinghamshire, if it’s managed correctly. He also foresees that, without independent voices in the mix, the New Buckinghamshire Council will be as poor as the old authorities that it replaces at understanding local needs.