Before 2012 N to Z


This alphabetical list has been created to assist in finding the obituaries of old
friends who have passed on.

Just click on the name and it will take you to the description. 

 Reverend John Nelson
Pauline Nicholson

John Oliver
John Oliver2--His eulogy
Anna Panter
Don Papworth
Sir Michael Parsons 
 Barbara Pearson

Derek Pearson
Tony Pickford
Sajjid Rahman
Jeshi Rikhye

Michael Rome 
Ronald E. Russell
Ann Scallon Eulogy
Sukumar Sengupta
Tanima Sengupta

Peter Seymore-Eyles
Chris Shapland
Peter Shortt
Baljit Singh Shergill
Basil Simpson 


Gordon Simpson
Billy Arjan Singh
Daljit Singh
PJ. 'Smudge' Smith
John Soward
Peter J. Stone
Jim Storrier
James L.C.Strang
Matt Stuart
Freddie Stroud
Robert Struthers
Ralph (Oliver) Twist
T V Verghese
Sunny Warner
Ron Weir
Pamela Werner
Mary Wheatcroft

Mo Wheatcroft
Liz Wild
Frank Wilson
Kay Woollett 


December 26 2011 

Pamela Werner

We are sad to report the passing of Pamela Werner on Thursday 8th December 2011. She died peacefully in Hospital at Exeter. Pam was the wife of Roger Werner who worked for the Assam Tea Company until his sudden death in February 1957. She leaves three children, Charlie, Diana and Roger. Until the early nineties, her son Roger would accompany his mother to the annual Inchcape society lunch at Taunton, where they met many of her friends from Assam, including John and Pauline Darby, RB White, and Robert and Jean Higham.

November 22 2011 

T V Verghese ("Verghy")

On 22 November 2011, in Cochin, Kerala, T.V. Verghese, aged 83, beloved husband of Molly and father of Liz and Georgie. Starting life as a tea planter with Finlay's in Assam. He rose to become General Manager,  North India Plantations Division of Tata Tea Limited before retiring in 1986

November 4 2011 

Mary Wheatcroft

Marianne Grantham tells us :

"I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news but my Mum, Mary Wheatcroft, died on
Friday 28th October.  She had struggled after the death of my dad Moe 2
years ago but remained, for the most part, cheerful and quick witted!!! She
was admitted to Warwick Hospital on Thursday 27th and died in her sleep a
few hours later from another brain haemorrhage, with my husband David and myself at her side.  It was quick and pain-free which has been a blessing."


November 3 2011

A Tribute To John Oliver - Dad

This transcript is closely based on the Tribute to John delivered at his funeral by his son, Nigel.

John was born in January 1925 near Sheffield. His father, Gilbert Oliver, was an engineerat Dixons Paper Mill in the Dee valley at a place called Oughtibridge. They lived at the end of a row of terraced houses perched in the woods above the Mill.

As the family prospered, they moved up the hill into a rather grand stone house with its' own grounds.

It was to be the first house Hilary, myself and Rupert ever lived in in England.I remember the oak panelling, and elk's head in the stairwell and eiderdowns on the beds.These were not so much a luxury as a life saving device. It was the coldest house I have
ever known.

He seems to have had a relatively care free childhood, roaming the moors above Sheffield and the crags that lined the far side of the valley, hitching rides on the slow freight trains that brought the pulp to the mill, training greyhounds (without success) and, only very occasionally, getting clipped on the ear by the local policeman (when policemen could do such things).

he he appeared set to follow his father and grandfather before him when he enrolled atLiverpool University to study Engineering. but the second World War had started andhe was called up - first to the Naval Commandos, then with the R.N.V.R. running Resistance fighters into Greece. As the war in Europe came to an end he was involved in the destruction of German Submarine bases in Helgoland and took two converted trawlers to Malaysia.

He left the Navy in 1947 and was kicking his heels at home when an Uncle, who was a Teaplanter in Assam, came to visit on Leave. He suggested John go and see George Williamsons in London and that he might enjoy a life in Tea. In December 1947 he joined the Attarakat Tea Company and so began a long and very successful career as a Teaplanter in Assam.

The Assam valley is in North East India. It is nearly 400 miles long and has a huge river,the Brahmaputra, running down the middle of it - the Himalayas to the North, the Khasi-Jaintia hills to the South and Burma to the East. It receives the highest rainfall in the world and grows Tea like nowhere else.

Of course, he joined as a lowly assistant and one of his first Managers was a man called Edward Kenny. Now, John Oliver and Ted Kenny were not what you might call natural bedfellows, but Ted did have something that interested John very much - namely a   beautiful Daughter called Joy. Her father put up some resistance but Joy new a good thing when she saw it and there was nowhere Ted could move John to that Joy could not reach on her Horse.

They were engaged in 1951 and married in '52. A year later, while on Leave, Joy gavebirth to Rupert in that freezing cold house in Oughtibridge. In the following few years Hilary and I were born, in India. It is hard to talk about India without sounding like some old Colonial about to bore everyone to tears. But make no mistake, John was no Colonial. Always a Yorkshireman

In India, he played Cricket and Tennis and was a keen Footballer. No wonder he wore his knees out before their time. But what he loved most was to sling a little rubber boat on top of a Jeep and drive as far into the hills as he could to float down the river, fishing.

Every Christmas he would build a Camp somewhere by a river and, joined by family and friends, some of whom are here today, we would spend a week in paradise.  It was about the time of his retirement that he said to me "You know, thinking about my time here, I've realised that, in a sense, I have just had a thirty five year love affair with the tea bush". It was true - he loved the bush. It truly fascinated him. So he watched and he learned and gave freely of his knowledge, and communicated his enthusiasm to others.

By these means alone he rose to high office. He became a Leader of Men - he dealt with Labourers, Unions, Colleagues and those above him with the same open hand. If he had a secret, it was his great discipline in both his personal and professional life. He has been described in more than one letter of condolence as a man of action, but was not  impetuous. He thought, sometimes at great length, about everything he did.

As he saw Retirement approaching, he began to think about a dream he hand long held,of building a boat and sailing round the world with Joy by his side. It all sounded a little ridiculous at first. He spoke about building it in Assam in ferro-cement and floating it down the Brahmaputra to Calcutta to be fitted out, then about building it in Hong Kong out of wood. In the end he had it built on the coast of Kent out of Steel.

John and Joy retired in April 1983 after 35 years in Tea. I will let others judge John's achievements, though I do know his Uncle was right - he enjoyed every minute. He said to me once "My life has just been one long Holiday" - and it was not over.

Abba was delivered in January 1981. She was a beautiful 43 foot ocean going Cutter on which he and Joy were to live for the next 10 years. I sailed it down to Portugal with them and that was the last I saw time I saw Abba because I left for Australia the same year. The letters I received told me of their day-to-day existence. They read like a Ships Log. "Left Malta, heading for Larnaca.Making good headway with a Westerly breeze.
Visibility good.Will post this in Crete."
Rupert and Hilary both spent some time with them and Hilary told me of night on deck, alone with Dad, sailing under the stars. She said they hardly said a word to each other all night, but she felt closer to him than she had been for years. He was, she thought, truly content. They ranged the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands and West coast of British Isles, but John's years of knee pounding had caught up with him and Joy began to yearn for a bed that didn't move. They finally made landfall in 1991 and moved in to a modest bungalow at Crowfield in Northamptonshire just before Christmas. Incapacitated though he was by his knees, John was still fiercely independent and expressed it by way of walking the dog. He regarded all the land for miles around as his by right of way - "a sort of big Tea Garden" as Rupert so aptly put it. If you wanted him to cross your land all you had to do was put up a sign ‘keep out'! John was not a believer but I take comfort in the thought that if he did, perchance, find himself facing the Gates of Heaven, St. Peter would not examine him too closely - for he would already know there wasn't a hope of keeping him out.

He eventually had his knees operated on in 2002 and 2003. This greatly improved his mobility until one day in 2005 when, as if to prove a point, he waited until Joy and Rupert were out and climbed a ladder with a chainsaw. He fell to the ground and undid all the good work that had been done. He still walked the dog, inspite of the pain he must have been in. Many is the time, I am told, the inhabitants of Crowfield (God bless them) have turned out to look for him, plucked him off fences or dug him out of a corner of some muddy field. When he could no longer walk effectively, I suggested a wheel chair might keep him active - Joy threw up her arms in alarm and cried "Heaven forbid! The moment we turn our backs he will be off down the dual carriageway." And he would have.

I will not dwell on his decline. I suspect it is entered in his logbook as a passage through Doldrums and Fog. I find myself returning to those images that are burned so sharply into my recollection by the Indian sun. Bending to shout in someone's ear over the sound of a rolling machine, cupping his hands around a sample of tea to smell it, climbing aboard a Cessna with his briefcase to fly off and visit a Tea Plantation, or, like the photo below, with his hand on the wheel and the wind at his back. There are so many of them, but if I can take only one, I would take an image of him at his most, gracious, most relaxed and most himself - it is of a man wearing nothing but a pair of shorts and faded khaki gym shoes, striding over the rocks down to the river's edge and casting a lure, high and straight and true, into the crystal Himalayan morning...there he was. John Oliver, straight and true.

May he rest in peace.






Penny Wadsworth, Michael's daughter tells me:

I am writing to tell you that my father, Michael Rome, passed away peacefully on Friday, 24th June 2011.  He had been unwell for some time and I feel relieved that he is now at peace. He was 82 years old.

His funeral is taking place on Tuesday 5th July at Worthing Crematorium (which is based in Findon!) at 1.20pm and afterwards at the Findon Manor Hotel for a finger buffet and drinks.

Very sad but grateful

April 12 2011


Wendy Knight tells the Editor that their old friend Daljit Singh, wife of Teddy died on March 30 2011 after a fight against cancer. We send our condolences to Teddy

 April 2 2011


Sadly we have to report that John Oliver died on 27th March at present we have no further details. John was VA for WM's for many years
The funeral is at Banbury Crematorium on Friday 15th April at 11 am followed by a reception at the Fox at Farthinghoe


 February 19 2011
We are indebted to Satish Dhali for writing this very informative letter to tell us about the passing and funeral service of his old Boss Frank Wilson

Frank Wilson

Frank Wilson, whom I served under for twelve years at Maijan Estate passed away on 7 November, 2010 in Delhi after a brief illness.  His funeral/last rites were performed on 9 November,2010 in Hindu tradition in accordance with his ‘Wish-List' left behind on a written note before he was admitted to the hospital.

All this was done in consultation with his brother T.R. Wilson who lives in ESCRICK, YORK U.K. (Tel No. : 01904728300) together with all necessary formalities completed in the office of the British High Commissioner, New Delhi.  Almost 60-70 planters with their wives were present for the funeral  held at the Electric Crematorium, Dayanand Ghat, Lodi Road, Jangpura, New Delhi 110 014 and I was asked to perform the last rites.

The remaining ashes, as per his wish, some of which were sprinkled in the WAR Cemetery, Delhi and the rest immersed in the Holy Jamuna River at Nigamboth Ghat, Delhi.

The memorial service was conducted on Sunday, 21 November, 2010 at C K Uppal's (worked under Frank) residence in Gurgaon.  A large gathering of planters with their families attended the service conducted by Eric Ram, Sr. Planter from Assam Frontier Company.  As, Frank would have liked it, the ceremony was followed with some drinks and snacks. Frank retained his cheerfulness and faith in life till the very end.

I joined Tea Plantation under Frank Wilson way back in 1965 and would not have ever imagined that in 2010 I would be asked to perform his last rites - a  moment unforgettable.


February 15 2011

Gordon F. Simpson

It is with great sadness that we have to report the passing of our good friend Gordon Simpson this morning. To his widow Yfke we send our condolences--

 FUNERAL DETAILS  for those who plan to attend.  

Wednesday 23 February - 1.35 pm - West Chapel, Aberdeen Crematorium.    Family flowers only.

All friends welcome to attend.  Thereafter tea and refreshments at the Fourmile House, Old Skene Road, Kingswells, Aberdeen AB15 8QA 

Today April 10 Yfke Simpson Gordon's widow asked me to post her message of thanks for all her sympathy cards she received after Gordons passing

I would like to convey my thanks to so many friends who contacted me following the announcement of Gordon's death.  Many letters and emails were from those who had been Gordon's assistants many years ago who sent such personal and moving messages expressing their appreciation of the support and guidance they received at the start of their careers.  I guess most of them will also have retired by now.

Margaretha, Cathy and I have such happy memories of places and friends in Assam and are proud and thankful that a very important time of our lives was spent in India.  All the kind messages of sympathy are most appreciated.

My warm regards to everyone.


 December17 2010
  Kenneth George Pearson

Paddy Pearson tells us that her husband of 48 years, Kenneth George Pearson, late of Assam Frontier and the Argentine, died on 13th December 2010, aged 95.   More in due course

December 4 2010


Bill Beattie tells the Editor that he had just heard from Terry Luscombe (Assam Co.) that Basil died in Spain last March.

" I knew him well during my time and occasionally afterwards in London. Basil left Assam and worked In PNG for many years. When we lived in Townsville he was always first on the phone at Hogmanay...his voice drowned by the "Pipes" and laughter! Am sure that the survivors from both countries will remember him."   

February 10 2011
Dadu Quader
Gives his memories of his old friend and colleague

Basil Simpson

My wife and I are greatly saddened by the news of Basil Simpson's demise. I was Basil's colleague and contemporary in the Assam Company in the late 50s. He took over from me as  Mistry Sahib (Factory Assistant) at Atkhel (Gelakey) factory in 1959 and made the best teas in the Company for the 1959 season. I had moved to Lakmijan to start up its first ever CTC manufacture upon conversion from the Orthodox process and worked to get to the top of the Company league. I couldn't !! Basil's Atkhel factory came first and Lakmijan came a close second. He was great to work with. My wife and I pray for his eternal peace, Amen.  Our heartfelt condolences go to his family.

Sincerely yours,

Dadu Quader.

August 21 2010


Jimmie Bain tells us that sadly Tanima Sengupta the wife of the late "Senny" Sengupta of Rungamuttee T E Dooars has passed away on the 19th of this month. Both Senny and Tanina were well known and respected and we offer our condolences to the family from the Tea Community

July 25 2010 


Derek Pearson

Jimmie Bain tells us that Derek Pearson died earlier this year.
Derek was a regular soldier in the Indian Army prior to joining James Finlay in 1948, he ended his army career as a major in command of the Dalai Lama's bodyguard in Lhasa.
After serving in Assam on Latakoojan, Hattigor and Lamabari estates he moved to Calcutta as V.A. in 1953 before being recalled to the Glasgow office in 1969,he retired in 1985.
Many  Finlay planters will remember he and Sheena's hospitality when visiting Calcutta and Glasgow.

July 16 2010


Maryanne Russell Thapa tells us that her  younger brother, Ronald Edgley Russell  (Ronnie, s/o of late George Edgley Russell) Aged 52, suddenly passed away on Friday 16th July 2010 at Hatfield, Hertfordshire England. 

We offer our condolences to Maryanne and her family

June 14 2010

Jimmie Bain has kindly forwarded the obituary for Senny Sen-Gupta written by Saroj Mehera

Jimmie tells us that Senny was well known in the planting community and he feels  sure it would be of interest to those who knew him. His wife Tanima does not keep good health but was in fine spirits when I saw her in Calcutta last year


b. 23.05.1925.  d. 13.08.2008.


In James Finlay/Tata-Finlay/Tata Tea, Sukumar Sengupta was known to his colleagues as Senny although, in good Bengali fashion, his nickname was Dhruba. He started his tea planting career as an Assistant at Powai T.E. in Upper Assam in 1951, where I started, two years earlier, in 1949. We shared a bungalow until the end of 1952, when I was transferred to Kakajan T.E. At Powai, Senny and I had lots of other planter friends -  R.K. Baruah, Anwar Minallah, Stan Allen, Aquil Ahmed, "Major" Vic Casabon, M.K. "Jhuntoo" Chaudhuri, in the Panitola and Doom Dooma areas and we would often party and picnic together

Some of the memories I have of Senny during those two years involved him and his motor car, a Ford Prefect. He was not the best of drivers, nor mechanically minded, which resulted in we other Assistants having a lot of innocent fun at his expense! While parking his car at the Digboi Club, Senny backed into a wire fence and entangled his rear bumper. A few manouevres would have freed it but we persuaded him that he should dismantle the bumper; this took him two hours! On another occasion, he complained that the car bounced a lot. Agreeing to remedy this, in his absence, we filled his boot with sand-bags and he drove off, happily bounceless, to return later with the complaint that the car moved very sluggishly! He was not very mindful of what was ahead of him on the road and, on the bridge over the Dehing near Margherita, he blissfully drove over a drunk sleeping it off, without harming the man and, when his passenger yelled out, he promptly stopped and reversed over the inebriate, again with no harm! Senny retired as Manager of Rungamuttee T.E. in the Dooars in 1980



February 19 2010


Matt Stuart lost the fight against cancer April 2 2009--he had wonderful care at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge and subsequently at the Hospice. Christine, Matt's widow organised  a fundraising function in his memory and the sum of  £5045.76 was presented to the hospital


Christine's letter tells it all

Hello Virginia et all!

 Just a quick message to let you all know that Lucy and I handed over the cheque to the PSSU ward at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge on Monday this week.  (February 15 2010)

As you will see from the attached photograph, we managed to reach our target of £5000, indeed just a little over that, so we were pleased that this was achieved.

The unit, which does such great work caring for people like Matt needing treatment to make life more comfortable during their illness, rarely gets any money raised for them, so they are delighted that such a substantial amount has come their way.

 The staff in the photo knew him well, particularly Fiona, who is standing on the right, behind Lucy wearing the fob watch which Matt gave her as a  little present to show her how much he appreciated her special skill, care, love and super sense of humour throughout all the procedures that had to be done. She thinks of him every morning when she pins it on to her uniform.

Matt would have been amazed and touched that the 'Sunset Song' concert would have been organised on his behalf, and grateful thanks for making this happen are due to Lucy, who put an enormous amount of care, time and energy into planning an unforgetable evening for us all. As well as raising the money, it was a great success as a social  event, with around 300 friends and family coming to enjoy the words and music as well raising a glass or two to his memory!  He would have thoroughly approved!

 I would also like to thank you all for your support for both this fund-raising effort and for your care and friendship over the past months.

Love and warmest wishes from,

Christine xxx

 Billy Arjan Singh

January 1 2010

Billy Arjan Singh
We have been informed of the sad passing on January 1 2010 of Billy Arjan Singh by Phil Davis of the "Save the tigers" web site who said:

He will always be an icon and inspiration to wildlife lovers, especially with introducing Tara the TIGRESS back into the wild and protecting Tigers. Please raise awareness and Save the Tigers by visiting:

Also Aline Dobbie wrote 
Billy Arjan Singh was a fine man of total dedication long before it became fashionable to have such a cause.  His two books with Guy Montfort On the Brink and Back from the Brink inspired me in the 1970s; my love of The Tiger goes back to my birth and childhood in India and the fact that my parents were friends of the late great Jim Corbett.  I only met him as a 'bump' in my Mother's tummy but his words in the 1940s were prescient and we owe Billy and his like a great debt for their sometimes lonely work.  I have put the intimation on and also on my blog on


December 7 2009


It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Anna Panter on Thursday December 3rd 2009.  Anna was the wife of David Panter and the daughter of the late Ghusal and Doreen Brown-To David and the family we offer our sincere condolences.

The Funeral will be held at St Mary's Church,
Tarrant Rushton, 
Nr Blandford Dorset at 12 Noon 
on Wednesday 16th December

Below is from Today's Daily Telegraph kindly supplied by Peter Bartlett

August 19 2009

Peter Shortt

These are the memories of his father, Peter Shortt,  kindly written for us by Peter's son Nigel Shortt.  The memorial service to celebrate Peter's life was held on August 18 2009

-------------------------------------------------------- I wanted to share with you a few memories and thoughts regarding Peter Shortt, father, grandfather, husband and dear friend who sadly died at the age of 77 on July 17th 2009 after falling ill with cancer. Here are a few of the things that were mentioned to me about my father:   "He really does mark the passing of a generation"   "I trust your pa's truly engaging character and great charm stand out as guiding heirlooms for the next generation or two"   "His interest in how things worked, especially people and his ability to enthuse others in a great learning experience was admirable and unique"   "A true English gentleman of a bygone era and he certainly made his mark"   Dad mentioned the koi-hai website to me almost 12 months ago and I spent hours looking through all the various articles searching for memories of the time I spent in India as a child. If there is one regret I have, it is that I did not sit down with Dad and ask him to remind me of my childhood days in India. My recollection of those days are very patchy, so please excuse the random snapshots, but I do remember that we had some wonderful times !   Dad managed the Langharjan Tea Estate and worked for the Jorehaut Tea Company having joined them in 1956 - a year before I was born. He met Rosemary my dear mother, out there in Assam and from then began my memories of a childhood spent between boarding school in the UK and holidays out in India. I remember at the age of seven, the excitement of flying out to Calcutta with BOAC as it was then and being a member of the Junior Jet Club and getting my free tin of sweets. My sister Belinda and I were given special treatment by the air hostesses as we were travelling alone ! Dad would fly down to meet us and I remember staying at the Grand Hotel for a night and seeing my first belly dancer at an evening show at the hotel before we flew back up north the next day !   I can picture days in Langharjan spent as a child experiencing everything from learning how to plant rice, to riding around the garden in a marvellous homemade train made I think from an old cultivator engine ! I remember endless acres of tea bushes and the smell of tea being processed in the factory. I remember Dad's love of horses and his tall polo boots immaculately polished and polo hat. I can picture swimming galas and film shows and Dad running a club shop and all of us making so many friends.   Above all I remember our trips on the river in a houseboat made from an old army boat I think ! There was a speedboat too and the adults including my mother waterskied on the river. I recall that I was terrified of the huge whirlpools as our boat went over them and having visions of being sucked down into the depths. I can still picture the picnics on the sandbanks or rather these were more of a feast of curries and other wonderful dishes.   Peter often talked about revisiting Assam and I would have been first in the queue to join him as an opportunity to reminisce would be too good to miss. After Rosemary passed away in 2001, Peter did eventually have the opportunity to enjoy companionship again when he met Barbara who he married a few years later. Sadly her time with Peter was abruptly cut short when he was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year and died so soon afterwards.   Dad - I thank you for all those wonderful memories !   Nigel Shortt. **************************

July 21 2009

Peter Shortt

Thanks to Gogi Bajaj we learn that  that Peter Shortt passed away, very peacefully, in the afternoon of Friday 17th July.
He had very aggressive prostate cancer, which took his life away in seven weeks from diagnosis. He died at home, his wife Barbara was with him and he had no pain.
To Barbara we extend our sincere condolences

July 1 2009

Sir Michael Parson

Thanks to Shantanu Chatterjee--commonly known as   ' Chat ' in the tea districts! we have the news from an Indian Newspaper of the passing of Sir Michael Parson. the notice said 

          " Sir Michael Parson died on the 19th. of April aged 93, in Aldeburgh. He was the Chairman of Macneill and Barry.  He was resident of Calcutta for many years."             Old planters would remember him.          ******************************************
We now have to thank Michael Graystone who has delved into his memory and produced an excellent obituary of his old 'Boss' and friend   Sir Michael Parson--  Thank you Michael


Sir Michael Parsons, who died on April 2009, aged 93, spent 34 years in India. He was Managing Director of Macneill & Barry, later to be Macneill & Magor, a large Managing Agency in Calcutta whose parent company was the Inchcape Company . After leaving India he joined the Board of Inchcape in London rising to the position of Deputy Chairman, second only to the Earl of Inchcape.

In 1968, Sir Michael was elected to the Associated Chambers of Commerce which was founded in 1853 and to which Sir Michael's grandfather was Secretary from 1897-1907, an early connection to India. He was also President of the Bengal Chamber of Commerce. Representing business interests took him into contact with the highest echelons of Central and West Bengal governments. On leaving he gained his well-deserved knighthood.

Sir Michael was born in 1915. His father entered the House of Lords as Bishop of Hereford, his mother was a qualified doctor. After school he studied medicine but decided not to pursue this profession. In 1935 he signed on as a supernumerary ordinary seaman on the cargo ship, the S.S.Tekoa which was subsequently sunk with a loss of all hands in the early years of the Second World War after putting up a gallant fight with her 4 inch gun against an armed raider. 
Sir Michael left the ship in New Zealand to travel the world before joining Barry & Co. in 1937, one of the smaller managing agents in Calcutta, owning just 9 Tea Estates and 2 jute mills. Here Sir Michael received his first taste of life ‘up-country'. On the outbreak of war he was commissioned into the Indian Army. He had no preference but thought he would like to serve with the men from the mountains. He was posted to 2nd. Battalion, The Royal Garhwal Rifles which was sent to Malaya as part of the 8th. Indian Infantry Brigade. He as promoted to major and was taken prisoner at the fall of Singapore. He was to survive three years of brutality and deprivation on the Burma Siam Railway (River Kwai). On liberation Sir Michael, elected to rejoin Barry & Co. After a period of recuperation during which time he met and married Molly and returned to India . Posted to the jute mills to liaise with other Barry& Co. units and the Calcutta Office, thus starting his long association with 2 Fairlie Place, Calcutta.
In 1949, Barry & Co. amalgamated with Macneill & Co., with it's myriad of companies to form Macneill & Barry, then wholly owned by the the Inchcape family. Thus Sir Michael started to move up the ladder. He was heavily engaged in the diversification of the jute mills necessitating much overseas travel. 
In 1957 Sir Michael became a director of M & B. and among his responsibilities was the Joint Steamer Companies. Tragically for these splendid companies which had done so much for India over 150 years, tensions between India and Pakistan had progressively weakened them. Prolonged strike of the Indian fleet in Pakistan water brought them to their knees. In a stroke of genius, Sir Michel was able to sell the fleets to the respective governments. The sum extracted from the Transport Ministry in New Delhi was £1 which more than paid for itself in the years that followed when millions were lost by the new owners. As they had been wholly owned by the recently floated Inchcape & Co., the sale in all probability saved the new company. During these negotiations he met up with some of India's leading businessmen including JRD.Tata, GD.Birla and the Nizam's family, all of them were to prove fruitful in the future.

In 1963 Sir Michael succeeded Sir Hugh Mackay -Tallack as Managing Director and moved into 22 Camac Street and in 1964 married Inagh Frewen.

In 1966, Inchcape & Co. doubled in size with the merger with the Borneo Company and he was heavily involved with this expansion further east to Singapore , Malaysia, Hong Kong and Japan..

In 1970 Sir Michael was asked to takeover the Australian business which was suffering major problems. Two years later he was invited to join the Inchcape Board in London on successfully completing his assignment. He and Lady Inagh left Australia with a flourish, returning aboard the ‘ Oriana'

Sir Michael became Managing Director and then to Deputy Chairman of Inchcape at a very interesting and productive time when many good companies , largely eastern biased, were acquired. He was Chairman of the Assam Company founded in the 1840's, India's oldest tea company. He was Director of the Commonwealth Development Finance Corporation from 1973 - 1980. He was Chairman of the Commonwealth Chambers of Commerce and an advisor on India to the British Overseas Trade Board. He was justly proud to be President of The Royal Garhwal Rifles Officer Association for many years. His outside interests included involvement with the United World Colleges together with Gordonstoun, the Outward Bound movement and the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme. UWC was Kurt Hahn foundation and one of his convictions was that if you believe in something, you must not just think or talk about it but you must act. Clearly a belief Sir Michael endorsed and followed throughout his career.

On retirement they moved to Tall Trees in Aldeburgh settling into the community. Being a keen and very good golfer and in his early and late 80's was able to shoot his age. He was elected Captain of the Aldeburgh Golf Club , a position he held for some years. He was also stalwart of the Oriental Club being both Chairman and Trustee and it was something very close to his heart. His long life spanned from pre-war India, post - Independence and gradual development to the financial powerhouse it is now. He played no small part in it's progress particularly when he was President of the Bengal Chamber of Commerce. He was blessed with the rare talent of having ease of recall and memory of events and people of long ago. This talent enabled him to write his easy to read autobiography ‘Room to swing a cat'. This title owes its conception from a chance description from Harry Beattie of the size of the captain;s cabin aboard a river steamer.

Sir Michael is survived by his second wife, Lady Inagh.

June 25 2009

Baljit Singh Shergill
(Universally known as Bally)

Jasbir "Timmy" Randhawa, through the good offices of Gowri Mohanakrishnan tells us:

I am most sorry to inform you all that Baljit Singh Shergill (universally known as "Bally") passed away at Chandigarh on 23rd June 2009. I was informed today of Bally's passing away by Saeed Kidwai, and by Kuljit Singh; and subsequently spoke to Bally's sister, and to Bally's son.

The "Bhog" will be held at the Sector 11 Gurdwara in Chandigarh on Thursday, 2nd July 2009 between 11.30 a.m. and 1.00 p.m., and will be followed by lunch at the Gurdwara.

Bally had studied at the Doon School, and had a long innings as a Tea Planter with James Finlay & Co./Tata-Finlay Ltd. in the Dooars and in Assam. He was Manager of Nowera Nuddy T.E. in the Dooars, and Lamabari T.E. in Assam. Bally had settled down in Chandigarh on retirement, but some years ago he had moved to Mussoorie. I understand that he subsequently sold his house in Mussoorie and moved back to Chandigarh a little over 3 years ago, to live with his sister. In Chandigarh he apparently suffered a fall and broke his hip about 3 years ago, and was bedridden since then, as the hip was not healing. During this period he did not maintain contact with his old Planter friends.
Bally will be sorely missed by all who knew him.

His sister, Raja (Mrs. Raghujit Singh) may be contacted at:
House No. 128, Sector 10 A
Chandigarh 160 010
Phone: (0172) 2740528

Bally's son, Manek's contact details:
Manekjit Singh Shergill 
B-20, Malcha Marg
New Delhi 110 011
Mobile: 98188-79075
Phones: (011) 26111407, 41680160
Email: [email protected]

June 24 2009

Jeshi Rikhye

We have just learned of the sad passing on June 20 of Jeshi Rickhye, he retired from Williamson Magors as a Director some years ago. He was ITA chairman whilst with Williamson Magors. He was President of the Calcutta Cricket and Football Club. To his wife Swarn and his daughter Neelam, and son Raman, we send our condolences.

May 9 2009

 P. W. "Smudge" Smith

Peter Bartlett tells the Editor that sadly he has to report the passing of  P.W. 'Smudge' Smith on 7th May 2009 at Midhurst,  West Sussex. To his family we send our condolences

A Tribute to Smudge Smith from his friends

On  7th May 2009, Peter ‘Smudge' Smith peacefully passed away at his home at Midhurst. To many of us Smudge was the last of  the true ‘KoiHais'. He  will be sorely missed-but he will never  be forgotten.

After the war as a young  ex Hurricane pilot, he made his way to India in 1948 and after reading the lie of the land, he finally settled on Tea Planting  as a suitable career..His choice was good .  He loved the work, the land,  it's people and  his tea planter colleagues. Most of all he loved the Rivers of the North East of Assam; the Kundil, Lohit, Subansiri and the mighty Brahmaputra.

Even in retirement, Smudge arranged  an  open house at Cowdray Park where  planter friends and their families could gather. Reminiscing, in good  surrounds, informality and great camaraderie was the order of the day  Smudge was the kind and considerate host and loved and respected by all.

Smudge had scheduled the next reunion for the 25th July 2009. He had left written instructions that in the event of his passing, that the gathering should go ahead, without him . There will no doubt be much laughter-and some tears and he will be there in spirit.

It is hoped that Smudges many stories and his wealth of  photographs will soon be collated and posted on the koi-hai site so that many more will be able to share the experiences of a wonderful ,wonderful man.

July 6 2009
Mirandah Stephenson tells Peter Bartlett that "We planted a Rose for him called the " Tea Planter"--it is budding now  - what is interesting is it has grown a really long and odd shaped spur--he always had to be different !

and here it is !!


April 27 2009


Peter Bartlett tell the Editor that sadly he has to report the very recent passing of Mo Wheatcroft  of Zaloni Tea Estate in the Tingri district of Assam. To his family we send our condolences

The following is from the local Leamington Spa paper

Maurice 'Moe' 5th January 1933 - 13th April 2009
Died peacefully at home after a long illness borne
with great dignity and courage.
Devoted and loving husband to Mary, dearly loved father to Jo and Marianne, father-in-law to Goran and David, loving grandad to Elly, Libby, Tico and Eloise.
Desperately missed but always in our thoughts. The funeral service will take place at South Chapel,
Oakley Wood Crematorium at 2.15pm on Thursday, 23rd April. Family flowers only please, but donations to Macmillan Cancer Support c/o John Taylor Funeral Service,
1-3, Russell Terrace,Leamington Spa
CV31 1EZ.

April 22, 2009

Matt Stuart

Matt Stuart died on April 2, 2009.  Click here to view the Celebration of Life of Matt Stuart.  The service is Thursday April 23, 2009.    This is a copy of the program of his service.  He will be missed.

February 28 2009

James L.C. Strang

Cethin Davies has kindly advised us that Jimmy Strang died in hospital on Wed 25th Feb. That's all that is known so far.

Ron Strang Jimmy's son has passed on the following information about the service to celebrate the life of James Strang as follows

Memorial Mass, celebrating the life of James Strang who passed away on 24th Feb 2009, husband of Beatrix and father of Ronald and Christian. Memorial Mass to take place Friday 6th March 2009 3:00 pm 
St Joseph's Catholic Church, Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire.   All Welcome. No Flowers. Donations to Alzheimer's Society.

Jimmy was the ex WW11 RAF pilot who served in tea and wrote the great collection of three books 
A Damn Fool Career consisting of 1/ Events in the Womb of Time 
2/ Paradise and Back and 3/ Best Laid Schemes & Mountains 
We extend to Trixie his wife and family our sincere condolences
March 7 2009
The Editor received the following note of condolence and deep respect for Jimmy from Jagdish Singh Jamwall who agreed to allow us to show it here on the Obituary page

Sir,  We were really grieved to hear about the sad demise of Jimmey Strang and we would like to convey our heartfelt condolences to Trixie , Ronald , Christian. I had the privilege and honour of working for him in the North Bank - Assam. He was the most upright, considerate, and finest gentleman I have known. My wife Krishna and I pray to Almighty to give peace to his soul snd courage to his family to bear this great loss.
From Jagdish Singh Jamwall -- Worked for Jokai India Ltd. 1962 to 1990

March 9 2009
The Editor received the following note of condolence and deep respect for Jimmy from Ajay Mehra who asked us to show it here on the Obituary page

Subject: My Condolences for Mr.J.L.C.Stang

Dear Sir,
               I worked as an Asst. Manager at Doolahat from 1965 to 1971,under the Superindency of Mr.Strang.Whilst I learnt a lot from him,I observed that he was among the finest of gentlemen, I have ever met in mylife. Of upright character and values he was a great man, and I consider myself very lucky to have been working for him as a young man.
              My condolences to Trixy and the family on their bereavement. I felt very sorry when I learnt that Jimmy was unwell for a few years. I was left wondering why bad things happen to good men.
             I have seen Jimmy walk on his hands to the tennis court, after parking his car, at the North Lakhimpur Club. Heard him recite a poem he had composed,at the time of his Farewell, on being promoted to join the London board. Received a hand written letter from him, while he was staying at the Taj Mahal hotel, in Mumbai, which said that he had arrived in India in 1948, and was leaving the country , on retirement from tea, having completed his ordeal with the buraucracy.  He named his house Subansiri, and taught his children:"whiter the bread, sooner you are dead" .I had the finest of puddings at his bungalow, and also an Austrian dish!!!
          When we all look back at our tenures in tea, it makes us feel nostaligic,at those wonderful days and those wonderful men.

          Jimmy Strang was undoubtedly one of the finest Planters and an excellent Bara Sahab. My association with him is my treasure.

         May god rest his soul in peace, and we all remember Trixy very fondly. She played excellent tennis for the mixed doubles, and when she was far Away from the ball, she was quick to call out "YOURS", for partner to do his best to reach out and reply the shot!!!
       AJAY MEHRA.

John Soward

We are sad to report that John died on January 19th 2009 and his funeral is at Porchester Crematorium on Thursday 29th January 2009 at 1.45 pm. Pat has asked that rather than flowers she would ask for donations to the British Heart Foundation--the undertakers are Carrells, 4Tower Hall Road Havant PO9 1AN

October 8 2008

The Reverend John Nelson

The following tribute to John Nelson came from  the minute of  the Church of Scotland , St Andrew's High Parish,  Musselburgh on May 1 2008 the presbytery of Lothian,

Tribute to The Reverend John Nelson

The Revd John Nelson  died on 9 April 2008 and, Presbytery standing, the Clerk gave 
an obituary memorial, composed by the Revd J. R. Wells, to him as follows:

Born in Glasgow on 29 March 1915, John Nelson was a graduate of that city's university twice over, graduating MA (Hons) and BD (Hons with distinction in Systematic Theology, with specialist papers on Islam).  That particular interest in Islam was to be formative in shaping John's ministry.  During his theological studies John had expressed an interest in working in China but other influential members of the Foreign Mission Committee at the Church Offices pigeon-holed the energies and enthusiasm of this eager and active young man for work in India because of his specialist knowledge of Islam.  Planned Postgraduate studies with the contemporary Swiss theologian Emil Brunner never got out of the blocks due to the outbreak of the second world war.  Instead, John remained in Glasgow and completed his training for ministry by serving a probationary period as Locum at Glasgow: King's Park.  A year serving with the Church of Scotland Huts and Canteens enabled John to apply for ordination; the Presbytery of Glasgow agreed to that, and ordained him as a chaplain to HM forces on 9 December 1941.  John served with the Royal Air Force seeing service in the Far East; he was demobbed in 1946.  Offering his services for the mission field John was sent to Selly Oak College, Birmingham to undertake relevant studies to further enable him for work in India.  It was here that John met Anne Gibson.  A meeting of minds and a strengthening friendship led to their marriage on the penultimate day of 1947 in Sialkot, Pakistan (which had become an independent state 4 ½  months earlier).  Anne accompanied John in his foreign postings in Gujrat, Pakistan and Assam, India.  Their children John and Tom were born in Pakistan and Mary in India.

John was a man who could engage with people and could gain the confidence of those he worked with.  He sought to uphold the dignity and justice of both Christians and Muslims in the newly-formed yet brittle country that was Pakistan .  Tensions were often high and John's skills in mediation were honed and to the fore.  However, it was not these tensions that saw John and Anne leave Gujrat; more practically, John, providing financial assistance for his parents and sister as well as his own growing family, needed to obtain a posting that provided a consistent income.  In 1952, John took up a post as chaplain to tea planters and pickers in Assam.  Seven years later a similar concern for family, this time the education of his children, brought John back to Scotland to work as Scottish Secretary of the United Society for Christian Literature, now the charity known as Feed the Minds.  Having seen Communist propaganda literature at first hand, John was keen that Christians abroad should have clear, informative and educative materials about the Christian faith.  John put his talents and energies into the work of the Society and became a well known figure throughout the presbyteries of the Church of Scotland as he worked as a teacher and diplomat furthering the Society's aims.  During the early years settling into this post, John and Anne completed their family with the birth of David, their third son.

John Nelson was to see further work overseas when a call to be minister to St. Andrew's Church in Calcutta was sustained the overseas Council who appointed him to the post on 10 May 1970.  Three years later, with St. Andrew's Church now part of the Church of North India, John and Anne returned to Scotland.  John accepting a call to the charge of Crawford with Wanlockhead and Leadhills in the Presbytery of Lanark to which he was inducted on 15 November 1973.   The warmth, engagement, pastoral availability and care that had been exercised in the mission field was to be the gain of these parishes for the next seven years.  John demitted the charge and retired on 31 December 1980.

Passionate about learning and education, John kept up his reading and was noted for following any New Testament passage being studied in the original Greek text. The enquiring mind and erudite raconteur that was typically John Nelson was by a stroke dealt a cruel blow. Communication had been, all in all, the life of John Nelson.  His belief and his encouragement of others to see all worship as a thanksgiving of gods good gifts became a diminished exercise as his powers of speech were affected and with years his body became less able.

That, however, did not stop John trying, in his inimitable way he had the liveliest eyebrows when trying to convey enthusiasm, excitement or point of view in discussion !
Many gathered for John's funeral at Mortonhall Crematorium on 16 April. The Main Chapel was all but full, not bad for a man of 93.  We gathered to give thanks for a life well lived in the service of Christ and in the feeding and freeing minds from duller things ; these had been John's interests and passionate concerns in his life and ministry.  We gathered also to support Anne , John (jnr) Mary and David (Tom was unable to travel from Australia), in their loss of a husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather.  As a worshipping and thankful gathering on that sunny afternoon we were aware too that an uncle, cousin, colleague, neighbour, and friend to many had taken his leave of us - but had left us with many good and treasured memories of how to live life well and hold with integrity our Christian faith. The Moderator led Presbytery in prayer remembering the life of Mr Nelson.

October 1 2008

Peter Seymour-Eyles

Sadly we have been informed by Claire Morris daughter of Peter and Margaret Seymour-Eyles that her father died on September 2 2008. I feel sure that everyone who knew Peter will join me in sending our condolences to his family

Claire also mentioned that "We as a family have many warm and happy memories of our time in Assam, and wish all the planters currently there and their families every joy and happiness for the future. It was special and I am sure continues to be a very unique place and experience.

Peter was a subscriber to the Camellia magazine and Claire advised that he very much enjoyed it and indeed had his most recent copy in hospital with him

June 26 2008

Sajjid Rahman

We are advised by Ajit Saikia  that veteran Tea Planter Sajjid Rahman (aged 87) of the erstwhile Jorehaut Tea Company Ltd, passed away last night after a brief illness. To his family we extend our condolences

September 6, 2007

Barbara Pearson (1933 - 2007)

Barbara , wife of Sandy peacefully passed away after a long illness on 1st August 2007.

Barbara met Sandy on the Anchor Line boat, the Celicia, in 1957, whilst sailing to India to join her father who was working on the Durgapur Steel Plants. Sandy was returning to Chatlapore Tea Estate after six months leave. They married a year later in Dacca.. They spent the next 12 years in East Pakistan and India. Their eldest son John was born in Calcutta in 1962 but shortly after they were evacuated due to the Chinese incursion. However they soon returned and after the birth of their second son Keith they moved to East Pakistan in 1970, but were evacuated again due to the onset of the Bangladesh war.

Though working in tea was not always easy they always supported each other and made many life long friends, had lots of great times and shared many happy memories.

On moving back to the UK Barbara and Sandy settled in her native Leeds, Yorkshire

Barbara leaves behind her husband Sandy, 2 sons and 4 grandchildren and is greatly missed

August 13, 2007


Tony Pickford sadly has died on Sunday 12th August in the UK following complications to a medical procedure. Tony fell ill a few weeks ago and after diagnosis left India and went to England where a new laser treatment was to be given. The Surgeon declared the operation a success but Tony, shortly thereafter, died at home from an infection that was picked up at the hospital. News about Tony's illness and the treatment, and progress was carefully monitored by Dee Stanley, a good friend of Tony and Bridget, and she kept some of Tony's other good friends aware of what was happening. Dee's sadness and shock was registered in her last email and this is felt by us all.

Tony has left us a wealth of stories and memories and it is good to know that these will live on in the koi-hai website and in the pages of the Camellia.
Tony, you will be greatly missed by all who have known you.

Tony Pickford -----a life in planting-----a life indeed.
An appreciation of Tony's life by Dee Stanley

I first met Tony and Bridget at Tiger Hill cemetery Coonoor in the Nilgiri hills of South India in January 2001.....He had been suggested to me as the man who could help track down the Rowcrofts graves in that cemetery....over the years we became friends and during his Summer leave to the UK he would stay with me and Jim and I would likewise stay with them in their bungalow within Wellington Cantonment whilst I was doing my bit for BACSA in the cemeteries around.... Bacsa is the British ass for cemeteries South Asia..... Tony was the son of a down to earth practical farmer in Oxfordshire... Leave from boarding school invariably meant , No Holiday at all as Dad
said..I dont pay to feed idle Tony and his brothers were set to hoeing, sowing, weeding, milking and muckspreading.....illnesses were treated with Horse liniments and vinegar and brown paper with good dollop of goose grease......National Service saw Tony as a
Second Lieutenant in the Oxford and Buckingshire Regiment and during his service he met, as a friend, another young sub who had a Father on the board of a Tea growing set up...Gardens in Assam....Tony went before the Board for interview wearing his ceremonials..sword and all...and the Board, consisting of Admirals and Colonels, Retd....said..Why, just the calibre of man we are looking for..and he got the job before opening his mouth..clothes
maketh the man........His stories of life on the Assam and NE.Frontier and his experiences as the Chinese invaded are already in the Public arena..He married an highly educated Indian Lady, the Daughter of a High Court Judge..whose Sisters were all high flyers.....and they had
a good marriage.....on one occassion they were in the UK for some time and she had employment in Oxford University in , I believe, a Phsycological department.....Tony and his wife returned to India... and later she died from an illness..sadly they had no children.... Bridget was Matron or Sister of the home that Tonies Mother had gone into..and on his leave he was informed that , A lady in the Home was
very keen on India.....some of us are!!! Tony courted Bridget and the rest came naturally..They had a lovely home in Wellington with a tea garden just opposite a little brook outside their front door....Eucalyptus trees in the garden and a little dog..a real country cottage.... Tony was popular at various clubs in the area.....and liked a glass
of grog..rum and water..outside of Long John Silver he was the only person I ever met who drank the mixture....He spoke his mind and was afraid of no one....a character, who once he knew you and you were his friend, then nothing would stand in his way to prevent him helping you if you needed it....The world will be a sadder place without him
and I shall miss him terribly...I have cried and now I shall cry no more as he would tell me to shut up..
Dee ...

 29 January 2007

Don Papworth

Robin Gregory has advised us that Don Papworth passed away peacefully of heart failure in Shillong and was laid to rest today 29 January 2007. Our sympathy goes to his relatives


December 19 2006

Sunny Warner

Sunny Warner, whom many of you knew well,  died on 1st September 2006, and her nephew Matthew Mackay presented a lovely review of her life at the funeral. Excerpts of this remembrance are included below:

I should like to start my "appreciation of Auntie" by reading you a letter she wrote some months before she died:

To my family

Thank you for all the love and caring you have shown me, and for all the happiness I have had from you. I am so proud of all of you & as I've told you - Jane, Sue, & Andrew - so would your parents have been. You, Martin, know how your mother feels, and I know your father would have been so proud of you, too.

I feel really privileged to have had quite a large part in your lives, and having no children of my own, I feel you have more than made up for that -- in fact, probably a good deal more trouble free! I have had so much fun out of it & thanks again.

         With my love



I saw Auntie for the last time a few days before she died. I held her hand and said to her: "We had fun, didn't we?". Having reflected hard over the last few days in preparation for today, I believe that this approach to life - essentially enjoying it to the full - really epitomises how this much-loved & wonderfully talented person would want us to remember her_ Of course, she knew her share of tragedy, but as I was talking to Esme - perhaps her dearest & certainly her longest-standing friend - earlier this week, she talked of her fantastic memories of the time when she, Sunny & Brend all shared a flat together. Of that time the recurring memory Esme has is of how much they laughed together.

It is of course daunting to try to summarise in a few minutes all her life. Moreover, the youngest of her nephews, I am acutely aware that my experience of Auntie does not remotely cover her entire life, and so I am very grateful to all of those who have given me insight ,& facts about her life. What I do not propose to do is to act as Auntie's biographer today, but in the space of a few short minutes indeed try to sum up what she meant to so many of us. Indeed, one of the delights of Auntie was that she had close friends all across the world. As I undertook the sad task of sending notice of her death to all her friends, I realised that I was sending so many letters to Australia, the United States, Canada & India as well as a huge number in the UK.

I think when I was young and stayed with Uncle Nick & Auntie Sunny, I was somewhat afraid of her -- very fond of her certainly, but slightly wary. I would be invited to stay at Hughes Hill from quite an early age and indeed would always go with enthusiasm, but I know Auntie was to me as Aunt Agatha to Bertie Wooster. Indeed I always used to refer to her with my friends as my "PG Wodehousian" aunt. recall when I was about 1 I and of course at that age obsessed with cars, Auntie Sunny & Uncle Nick took me to Brighton to look at the Pavilion. Auntie was telling me all about King George and the associated history, and as she was speaking, a a car - an Aston Martin I think it was - drove passed.. In all innocence I said to her: "Actually, l have to admit that I am more interested in the Aston Martin that just drove passed". Of course, this brought a severe reprimand from dear Auntie about how rude & ungrateful this was. I noticed at the time that Uncle Nick had turned away and was not paying attention. Looking back, I realise now that Uncle Nick had turned away to hide the fact that he was howling with laughter! I think he would have been in as much trouble as I was, had he been caught laughing!

I must admit that it was really in 1986 - quite a few years later, of course - that I realised how much fun Auntie could be and saw perhaps the real person than the rather fierce facade had hidden from the child. I was living in Mexico at the time, and after Uncle Nick had died, Auntie said to me: "I will come to see you. We will go round Mexico. You organise the trip and I will pay for it". That was too good an invitation to refuse for an impoverished student. We had an unforgettable 2 weeks as we toured the country. I think it was at that time that we started to get to know each other properly as adults, and the shared memories of that time - laughter all the time, as Fame told us - were wonderful for both of us. I recall in particular two boat trips we took for the day from a couple of different coastal resorts. On the first, there was a tremendous "pretend" pirate, who menaced everyone & really was in character. There is a great picture of his attacking both Auntie & me which I will treasure for ever. On the second, there was another pirate doing the same thing. However, he was pale imitation of the first and did not seem to enjoy his work at all. Auntie & I both agreed afterwards how limp he had been compared with the first, and spent the next few days laughing about how feeble he had been.

As I say, I really see that time as when Auntie & I grew close. However, the kindness and generosity of spirit which is known to all of you manifested itself throughout her life. Many years ago, when Barry's first wife Christine died, Auntie spent a lot of time helping her much-loved brother to look after Jane, Sue & Andrew, helping them to come to terms with the loss of their mother. Jane recalled the other day that Auntie of course did a lot of cooking. However, there was a problem with her puddings, in that they always tasted of creosote. This naturally made Auntie quite cross - and we know that could be a fearsome sight - until they discovered the source of the problem It was subsequently discovered that someone had used her wooden cooking spoon for stirring creosote. I am sure that mistake was not repeated by the unfortunate individual concerned!
That generosity of spirit was extended to so many people. - friends across the world She & Uncle Nick acted as surrogate parents to David, Tim & Andrew Proudmen as they each spent a year at school in England. Bruce, Neil & Nicolette Dunlop developed a similar close relationship with Sunny & Nick during many holidays spent with them.

The accomplishments that Auntie managed through her life are so numerous that it is impossible to make reference to them all.

Perhaps her first love was music, dance & stage. She was a very accomplished actress, appearing in the Cambridge footlights and also working in rep for some time. Esme told me that she was actually a very talented ballerina until she "outgrew" that occupation. In later years she was, of course, an active member of the Billingshurst Choral Society.

Whilst in Cambridge she was secretary to a Nobel prize-winning scientist at the LeMond labs. I have few details of this save to say that it must have been a very demanding position and would take considerable talent to fulfil successfully

She spent several years-in the US making very good friends in the process. I recall her telling me of the time when she took a typing test in Los Angeles and, through uncharacteristic nerves, started with her fingers on the wrong keys which meant that she typed absolute gibberish She was given another chance and I believe got the job! I again personally benefited from Auntie's ability to make such good friends as on my first trip to New York I stayed with the Kings, very old friends of hers

She was a keen & good amateur tennis player, and a gifted artist. She & Uncle Nick would really enjoy painting together and took art classes. Of course, in their life in Assam together she became a strong bridge player (she introduced both me & Jane to the game) and a really good photographer. I remember as a young boy spending many fascinating hours watching slides from her time in Assam and asking question after question about her life there.

She was secretary of Billingshurst Parish Council for many years, and a deserved reputation for being highly efficient & organised. That reputation was perhaps belied by the piles of papers that would accumulate on her dining room table. As her main financial advisor over the last few years, I did my best to sort her affairs into some form of order, but I am afraid it was something of an uphill struggle!

She became a highly qualified and sympathetic counsellor. Perhaps her interest started with her work at the Citizens Advice Bureau, but it soon developed and flourished and she became a much-loved counsellor for CRUSE, the bereavement group

Auntie had a deep love of animals and was a successful breeder of black Labradors. We all remember Cinders, Juno & Kala - three generations o the sarne black Labrador family - with such affection. She was an active supporter of the World Wildlife fun and the RSPB. Her love of animals extended to bees as well. So much so that I can remember being stung by several at Hughes Hill. However, she was very successful as a bee-keeper and her honey won many prizes. I would like to share with you the kind e­mail I received last week from Mr Roger Patterson - President of the West Sussex Bee-keepers Association (Wisborough Green branch). I believe this sums up both the skill & diligence Auntie brought to every task she undertook and indeed the affection she inspired in all who knew her.

"Sunny joined the Wisborough Green Beekeepers Association and within a short time was elected Hon Sec, a position she held for 16 years. She was so good that we couldn't get anybody to follow her in case they were seen as inferior! On her retirement from beekeeping we made her a Life Member. She was also a Chairman of West Sussex Beekeepers Association, and in appreciation of her contribution she was made a Life Vice President, one of only four to have been elected"

Auntie had so many dear friends it is difficult for me to mention them all I hope therefore that you will allow me to mention just four who made such a difference to Auntie's life. First, Shirley White, of whom Sunny was so fond, and who did so much to support Sunny in recent times. Equally, Mike & Colly Akers - it is impossible to imagine two more kind, devoted or generous people. I would particularly like to thank Shirley, Mike & Colly for everything they did for Auntie to support her & make her life as comfortable as possible in her last months( but of course moreover for the love & friendship they all shared for so many years. Finally, I would like to mention Esme. I know she was devastated not to be able to be with 114. today, but she did send Jane, Sue, Andy & me a letter which she asked me to share with you, and I am very pleased to do so:

In her last months. Sunny worked with Belinda Tilley on a project to record the details of her life. She recorded onto tape & Belinda faithfully transcribed what she said. Sadly, Sunny was only able to record up to the mid-50s before she died, but we have asked Belinda to continue the transcription exercise so that we can have a record of life in as much detail as possible.

The transcript to date is fascinating, detailing Sunny's early life. The humour & sense of fun comes through in every paragraph, as does her complete honesty & direct approach. The tape opens:

"My earliest memory was being on the side of a hill or it might have been at the top and I think it might have been Table Mountain in South Africa. .. We were in South Africa because my brother Barry had been very ill the previo winter with bronchial pneumonia and had only just survived and they said he shouldn't spend another winter in England. Judging by the current perishing) cold weather I don't think anybody should spend the winter in England ".

The entire document is filled with such memories told with such a fine sense of fun. Of course I cannot read it all today, but I will share one other moment with you w certainly made me laugh. Sunny is talking about her early school-days and Miss Shepherd, her Latin teacher:

"I think Miss Shepherd must have been quite clever but she wasn't very good at teaching, at least she wasn't very good at teaching Latin to me because I never managed to do very well. I always seemed to end up with a clause that I couldn't fit anywhere into the sentence".

We should give thanks for such a wonderful life. Auntie would have wanted us to laugh and enjoy the love & friendship we shared. To that end, I do hope you will be able to join us in the village hall after the service. She would be most aggrieved if you did not - after all, she kind enough to make sure she paid for it, and in her inimitable fashion, she would absolutely insist everyone laughed and had a good time That is how she would want to be remembered, and that is certainly how I will remember her.

November 9 2006

Ann Scallon

An Eulogy for Ann Scallon by her son Robert

My mother was born in Darjeeling in India on July 15th 1920, the middle child of Irene and Percy Briscoe, a tea planter and big game hunter from the Dooars. Ann had a sister Bettine and a younger brother Tom. She was educated at Talbot Heath and Dorchester School for Girls in Bournemouth, before going on to Cheltenham Ladies College. A talented sportswoman, she was in the first team at hockey, tennis and cricket, where she opened the bowling for the college.

When war broke out, Ann was training to be a physiotherapist at a college in Denmark. A second year student with short, curly fair hair, she was known as something of a clown who could imitate anybody from Bob Hope to Gracie Fields. After the Germans invaded Demark she found herself unable to return home. With the help of the local Resistance and forged ID cards, she and a fellow student boarded a ship from which they jumped into the freezing waters of the Skaggerack (sp?) Canal and swam to safety in Sweden. The incident was widely reported in the national and local Press, but in her usual modest way Ann didn't talk about it much. She eventually returned to England with the assistance of the RAF.

After the war, Ann returned to India as part of what was known as the Fishing Fleet of young ladies looking for husbands. There she met Holly, a tea planter's assistant who'd served in India with the RAF during the war. They were married in Shillong on September 3rd 1949 and had two children, Robert and Patricia. And indeed some of my most vivid memories of my mother date back to her years as a young memsahib in India, where life seemed to be an endless whirl of parties, fishing and camping trips, evenings at the club and tennis, at which Ann excelled.

Not that life was always easy. Ann disliked the heat, wasn't keen on the Bridge parties that were a feature of being a planter's wife, and the separation from her children in boarding schools 6,000 miles away. Her job was to run the house and organise the servants. On one particularly hot morning I remember her instructing the gardeners to mulch around the bushes and shrubs to prevent them drying out. When she came out to inspect what they'd done she discovered they'd also mulched around the metal tennis posts. On another occasion after a run-in with the cook, she sat down to lunch to find extra chillies had been added to the soup.

During a period of home leave, she was asked to present the prizes at my Prep School, Chelmsford Hall here in Eastbourne. It was NOT one of those things you could say ‘No' to. I remember her on stage, dressed very self-consciously in a pill-box hat and powder blue suit, clearly wishing she was somewhere else.

Ann was not one for the limelight. She'd be more comfortable in the stalls of the local cinema, having studied the reviews of the latest films in the Telegraph. It was the same with books for Ann's other great passion was reading. She would assiduously follow the reviews in the paper, then place an order with the Library for the latest biography or novel of a favourite author.

In the kitchen Ann would be the first to admit she was no Delia Smith. Liver and bacon, cauliflower cheese and cottage pie were three of her signature dishes. As term-time approached I knew my cake tin for school would contain a Victoria Sponge - it was always chocolate or vanilla - and some of her excellent rock cakes.

After a quarter of a century in India, Ann returned to England with Holly and they began a new life in Eastbourne, which largely revolved around the Royal Eastbourne Golf Club. As a lady member, Ann was part of the team which won the Division 3 Sussex Club Championship in 1980. She continued to play until her eyesight deteriorated to the point where she could no longer go on.

Holly was a constant source of strength to Ann and she relied on him almost totally. Their Golden Wedding anniversary in 1999 was celebrated by family and friends from three continents, with the Best Man at their wedding sending a congratulatory message from his home in Sydney - the first contact they'd with him for many years. I think some of you may have shared that occasion with them.

Over the last few years I spoke to my mother regularly on the phone from Australia, whether it be about politics or sport or comparing notes about the latest films we'd seen or books we'd read. It became difficult towards the end and I could hear the frustration in her voice.

But that's not the Ann I'll remember. What I'll remember was her fun-loving nature, how spirited, unpretentious and down-to-earth she was, her wicked sense of humour and her willingness to give things a go.

November 6 2006

Kay Woollett

It is with sadness that we announce the passing of Kay Woollett - widow of the late Leslie Woollett formerly with the Assam Company in Assam  Kay died on 15th July 2006 after a long struggle against breast cancer. Her daughter Ann said that her mother had been in continual pain for many months and is at last at peace.

October 13 2006

Chris Shapland

Peter Bartlett very kindly forwarded this cutting from  the Daily Telegraph of October 3 2006 recording the sad passing of Chris Shapland 
our sympathy goes to Elizabeth his dear wife

SHAPLAND--Christopher James  Griffiths of Yarlington, Somerset. Died suddenly at home 
on 29 September 2006. Devoted husband to Elizabeth, loving father to George, Hugo, Trudi,
Roger, Thomas and Eric and dear Grandpa to Victoria, Sophie, Chin Yang, Harry, Tristan and 
Matilda. A wonderful, kind and generous man who will be sorely missed. Funeral at St Mary 
the Virgin Church, Yarlington on Saturday 7 October 2006 at 12 noon. A Memorial Service 
in Kent  will be announced..
Chris was with James Warrens in Doom Dooma in the 1950s/1960s--Apologies Chris was never in Malawi

September 24 2006


Bill Charlier tells us:

W.E.Dowsing (Bill) died today in Australia where he had been living since he left tea  in the late sixties. He joined The Assam company in late 1947 after serving in the Army during war in Burma. He spent most of his tea years on Assam Co gardens in the Nazira district.,he was a keen polo and cricket player.

Bill Charlier also mentioned that "Bill was a great friend and  had visited him in Australia a number of  times and we always had a bottle and threw the cork away !"

September 1, 2006

Sunny Warner It is with sadness that we have to report that Sunny Warner passed away peacefully in the Midhurst Cottage Hospital after a gallant fight on September 1 2006.  Sunny was the widow of the late Nicholas Warner, past Superintendent of the James Warren Companies in Assam. The funeral service will be held on September 14th at 3pm in the Parish Church of Wisborough Green, West Sussex

August 18, 2006

Robert Struthers

We learned from Derek Perry that Robert Struthers, 73,  passed away on Friday 18th August 2006 at 11.50 am.  To read of his friendship with Derek Perry please click here.

November 4 2005
Pauline Nicholson

We have been advised by Barbara Lyness's daughter Sue of the sad passing of Pauline Nicholson wife of the late Nick Nicholson from cancer in late October.We extend our condolences to her family.


July 26 2005
Holly Scallon has kindly advised me of the passing of 

 Freddie Stroud

Freddie Stroud passed away in a nursing home in Hereford on 1st July following a long illness. After war service with the 1st Punjab Regiment he came to Tea in 1947 and was a popular and always cheerful member of the Tea Community both in Assam and the Dooars. During the last years of his career in Tea he became Dooars Visiting Agent for Jardine Henderson based at Chuapara T.E.  Freddie was also the proud holder of the OBE. Freddie's wife died many years ago - there were no children and so far as I know his only surviving family member is his brother.

Freddie's Obituary was published in the Burma Star Association and Don Papworth kindly passed it on to the Editor and it reads as follows;

"Major F.H.Stroud OBE; 1st Punjab Regiment, Romney Marsh.".
 Romney Marsh is, of course, his BSA branch and a lovely place it is - I used to live in Hythe home of the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway and what was the Small Arms School.

May 29 2005
Liz Wild
It is with sadness that we report the passing of Liz Wild wife of Denys Wild on Sunday May 29 2005. The funeral is private but there was a memorial service in Wareham Dorset on Monday June 6th at 2.30 

May 7 2005

Jim Storrier

 Jim Vickers tells us with great sadness that  Jimmie STORRIER's daughter has just phoned to say her Dad had died today (MON 9 MAY 05).   His death was not entirely unexpected.  Jim who was an old friend of Jimmie's goes on to say " As my next door neighbour in tea his friendship and counsel was much valued and continued to be so to the end  Sadly, I (Jim Vickers) am not equal to the task of writing a eulogy.   I knew all three Storrier brothers: two were in tea in East Pakistan and the other one in Special Branch (Cameron Highlands where BOH TE is situated).   Jimmie was employed by Duncan Brothers on ALLYNUGGER TE which was nearby the PTA establishment.   I understand he went out East with Donald MacKENZIE where their paths separated.   One of my fondest memories was a visit to DUNDEE for high tea with the family which his mother had organised  a dram or two in the front room & first round from the banquet table (finest linen, cutlery & crockery)   return to front room and a repeat performance of the first round of feasting.
Jimmie will be missed


December 1 2004
Ronald (Ron) Weir

The Editor, with sadness, has been advised by Liz Weir that her husband Ron Weir passed away peacefully on 14th November, 2004, in Invercargill, New Zealand, after a long fight against cancer.

Ron was an estate manager with Chulsa Tea Company in the Dooars until he relocated to New Zealand where he began a second career in commercial real estate and owned a real estate franchise until his first battle with cancer forced him into retirement.

Liz Weir wishes her e-mail address published on-line in the Directory so that his many friends from Dooars days can contact her and their two sons. The address is - mailto:[email protected]

May 2004

The editor is indebted to Digby Hembry and Ken Baber for 
the following appreciation of Peter's life

Peter J. Stone

Peter J Stone died tragically on 4th May 2004 at the Assam Reunion in Eastbourne aged 75.  Peter joined tea in 1950 and served with the Empire/Gillanders Group at Sonari, Doars and latterly at Thakabari District on the North Bank, where he was held in high esteem professionally and socially.  

On leaving tea he carved out another successful career in Human Resources with firstly Fords and then with Thomson Newspaper Group and latterly with the oil exploration industry based in Aberdeen.  In the years prior to his retirement he acted as a respected Consultant to numerous oil exploration companies mainly located around N.E.Scotland.

  Peter was always very cheerful, pragmatic and an excellent counsellor without seeking reward.  He will be sadly missed by all his many friends and we should not count the years, but count the memories.  He leaves a loving wife Bea and two adoring sons Kevin and Clive (who were both born in Assam) and their fine families whom he worshipped.

Ralph Twist (Oliver)

Ralph passed away on 2nd Jan '04 and was buried in the village cemetery in Upper Shillong . He was well liked in the village and the funeral was well attended. The only european planters left in Shillong who attended the service in the house on the day of the funeral were Peter Furst, and Don Papwood   George & Diana Richmond took care of all the details and are in touch with Ralph's younger brother in England .

Ralph's date of birth was 3rd.March,1917 at South Newington , Oxfordshire. UK. His father was a well known land agent in those days. At the age of 19, he joined Messrs.Charles Hope &Co, Tea Brokers of Mincing Lane, to learn the tea trade. At the age of 20, in January, 1938 , he came out to Assam and joined Tinkong T.E. as an assistant. He then volunteered for service with the Indian Army in June 1940.and trained at the O.T.S. Belgaum. Commissioned to the Central Horse in 1940.1941 seconded to the 47th.Cavalry in Poona . And then with the Assam Rifles at Lokra in May 1942. Served on the Manipur/Burma road and on airfields under the supervision of the I.T.A. He was discharged from the army in October 1945 with the rank of Captain.

He then returned to Andrew Yule as Banarhat. From there he did stints as an assistant and acting manager on several estates under Yule. Some of them being Singtom, Ananda, Karbala ,  Konikor  Dalim  Khowang Mim Etc.etc.

He resigned from Yule in 1965 and joined J.Warren as an senior assistant at Thowra, acted at Deohall, manager at Dekhari. Retrenched in 1967 due to devaluation. Joined a prop garden in 1967 residing then at Bokahola. In 1969 left and joined P.Chaterjee at Urrunabund in Cachar as manager. Retired in the mid seventies from Cachar and settled in Shillong till his death. He was a keen shikari and angler. His shooting buddies were Jerry Eastmure, Peter Rex, David Shiner, John Batten, and Jock Lees. He spent  half his leave in the jungle and half in the UK  

Derek Perry writes
It is ironic that Ralph Twist also known as 'Oliver' should follow the demise of Johnny Hay so soon. Both were Andrew Yule men, the one followed the other as Chota Sahibs at Khowang Tea Estate, Moran District.

In 1955, I was privileged to serve as his temporary assistant at Hoograjulie Tea Estate for a period of about 6 to 8 weeks when he was struck down by a mysterious affliction that produced a high temperature during the day but subsided to normal in the evenings. This was good as he was my only source of social contact during that period. The monsoon at its height had severed the tenuous link wit the local Planters Club and Tezpur was about 30 miles south on a tortuous bone shaking "kutcha" road.

Oliver was a fine host and great raconteur, his isolation at Hoograjulie did not deter him from keeping a sumptuous table aided by his excellent Chinese cook He had a sharp wit and his fund of stories were endless. Those monsoon drenched evenings were memorable for his kindness, wit and entertainment.
In closing these recollections of Ralph Twist, I don't think it would be remiss of me to tell one of his stories that has indelibly stuck in my mind these many years. For readers of the Koi-hai site it is particularly apt.

The story is told after a few pegs at a point in the evening when the glasses are low and in need of topping and timing is everything in the telling.
A young assistant comes to tea just before the war but leaves to serve his country. He has the misfortune to loose his right arm in battle. He recovers and returns to tea one arm missing. In the course of time he falls for an attractive Calcutta girl. She comes up to his estate and they are married at the Club. On the wedding night the groom encounters some difficulty consummating the marriage. With his only arm wrapped around his beloved he whispers in her ear for her assistance with "putting it in". No she says she can't do it. This goes on for a little while, till eventually in frustration the groom says in a strong loud voice.

"If you won't do it, I shall have to get help, KOI HAI !!!!!!

Ralph told this story with perfect timing and aplomb. On cue his Bearer arrives. "Ha Sahib ?  Ralph in his most sonorous voice,  "Whisky, pani  liao"

And if you think about it, also a case of Oliver asking for more !

Good on you Ralph Twist, always the gentleman. Rest In Peace.