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A non traditional memorial at Elwood Bathers

In early 2022, Tomorrow Funerals, was honoured to help celebrate the life of Thomas Peters – the much loved patriarch of a family spanning four generations.

Tom was a gentleman and a ‘gentle’ man. At his core he was a family man, but he was also known for his quiet yet dignified manner, and for his kindness.

The family said they could not count the number of times he’d told them not to give him a funeral, so instead they chose the stylish and modern, beach-side, Elwood Bathers to host a family day. Tom had a great love of the sea!

Tasked with the idea of creating a memorial for someone who did not want a funeral, Kate at Tomorrow helped the family re-think what was most important to them in saying goodbye. For them it was about coming together as a family to remember him.

Tom’s body was cremated prior to the memorial event. A short recount of his life started off a relaxed ceremony, then those who knew Tom best shared some wonderful tales about his long life and many adventures. Afterwards, his two favourite foods were enjoyed – chicken sandwiches and chips!

During the afternoon a tribute video made up of a lifetime of wonderful photos, created by Tomorrow Funerals, was played on Elwood Bather’s quality AV screen.

The atmosphere felt warm and happy. The grandchildren even made it out to the beach for a play. And when Sandra, Tom’s daughter commented that the person who would have loved the event most was Tom himself, we knew we had hit the mark.

Creating authentic ‘celebrations of life’ is our mission at Tomorrow, and we were thankful for the opportunity to assist the Peters family.

With his family’s permission, here is an extract from Tom’s life story, which they loved receiving in a hard copy book with photos after the event, (which is included in Tomorrow’s package.)

Tom, the Englishman!

18.01.18 – 01.03.22

Thomas Sydney Peters was born in Alstonfield, Fairfield, England to Sydney and Hilda Peters. He was raised with his brothers and sister in a small village just out of Buxton in England.

Uncle Albert told the family about the times that he and Tom used to spend waiting for a car (which was a reasonably rare sight) to come over the hill. The boys would try to guess what model it was by the radiator.

Tom used to tell his children about the fascination he had with Guy Fawkes Night, which was on November 5th each year. It’s a tradition for children (even today) in England, to spend weeks collecting funds for fireworks by begging “a penny for a guy?”

The boys would pool their coins to buy firecrackers which they’d spend the night letting off with a bang. To the young Tom it was the highlight of his year.

In those days, there weren’t leisure activities like there are for young kids today. But there was the nearby Bray farm which had farm animals and fruit trees so Tom began helping out, picking up some lifelong skills that would come in handy for his new life in Australia.

At 15 years of age Tom joined the merchant navy where he eventually became a ‘Stoker’, which meant to stoke the fire in the engine room of the ship.

Over the years, Tom maintained his connections to England. But he also loved Australia and felt like an Aussie, or at least tried hard to be one. Sandra told me he kept a foot in both camps throughout his life, but he never lost his English accent and always greatly enjoyed meeting people from England.

During those years he travelled the world. He weathered storms in Antarctica, sickness and even a shipwreck, but he didn’t talk much about his days at sea. Once the Second World War broke out, Tom joined the Australian Navy which led to his relocation to Sydney, once it was over.

He fell madly in love with a young Sydney lass, Jean McGregor. He remained convinced throughout his life that she was the most beautiful woman in the country. Their love letters to each other in the late stages of his time at sea have become a family treasure. Tom’s tiny handwritten letters offer an insight to his romantic nature.

Over the years, Tom maintained his connections to England. But he also loved Australia and felt like an Aussie, or at least tried hard to be one. Sandra told me he kept a foot in both camps throughout his life, but he never lost his English accent and always greatly enjoyed meeting people from England.

Being self-taught, he loved anything to do with engineering and was constantly reading textbooks and expanding his knowledge of mathematics too. He worked hard after moving to St Kilda in Melbourne in the mid 1940’s and forged a career as an Engineer, after studying at night school.

As a father, Tom was kind and loving. He was a practical, man who always encouraged his children. He was always available to them and was often making things for them or fixing things.

After he retired in 1983, he had a bit of a resurgence in his life as he took to the role of grandfather with gusto, spending time with his youngest grandsons, Matthew and Brett, who recall him as a caring and doting figure. Pop often joined along on school excursions to the museum or other interesting places.

Matt, who was fortunate to share his interest in working with his hands, described him as “wonderful, caring and very loving.” Peter taught Michael all about how to fix engines and other practical things.

Tom was married to Jean for 69 years and he felt her loss and greatly when she passed away in 2015. They were a couple who would always hold hands and did everything together.

In February Tom went into hospital for a sudden heart complaint. His illness was short, and the family take some comfort that he did not suffer for long.

Tom passed away on the first of March and will be greatly missed by his family here and in England and a wide community of friends and club members.

We will now here more about Tom’s adventures from those who knew him best – his grandsons.

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