Town mourns death of popular businessman and school benefactor

Reynold Victor Phillimore (left) SUS-170530-145432001
Reynold Victor Phillimore (left) SUS-170530-145432001

An established businessman and town benefactor sadly passed away on May 22.

Reynold Victor Phillimore moved to Bexhill in September 1968 from Bexley, living in Carfax Close which still remains the family home. Born in 1928 in South London, Ren went to school in East Dulwich leaving when he reached the standard age at the time of 14.

He worked as an apprentice in the newspaper trade delivering press cuttings around the area by push bike. He then went on to learn the trade of panel beating in Peckham, before joining the army aged 17 where he became a Churchill tank operating instructor.

Upon leaving the army, he joined the Post Office where he worked at Heathrow airport and Waterloo railway station, among other depots.

He met his wife Doris while delivering mail to her place of work in 1953 and they have remained together since their first date at a dancing school, marrying in June 1956 and celebrating their Diamond Wedding anniversary last year. After their two sons Martin and Steven arrived, Ren and Doris decided Bexhill would be a great place to bring up their young family.

Ren had reinforced his engineering skills at the Ford Motor Company at Dagenham, so decided to set up a car repair business in the town, starting up by the old Skinners and Reeves builders yard in London Road. Things went from strength to strength with his firm gradually moving to bigger and better premises including in Sackville Road (where the Phillimores were a leading part of the Sackville Road Traders Association), through to the Old Cinema building in London Road.

Ren had the foresight to realise Beeching Road was a better place to set up a base and moved to No.1, rebuilding the Old Hall and Co Builders Merchants into the modern motor repair business facility that it is today.

Ren wanted to support the local community and his sons’ education, so joined the Bexhill Grammar School PTA committee, going on to become a school Governor and eventually the chairman of the Governors of Bexhill College. He worked closely with the principal John Beckett to make the establishment the envy of most around.

Possibly his main achievement at the Turkey Road site was the erection of a state-of-the-art sports hall which he managed and did all the electrical installation for.

In September 1993 it was opened by local dignitaries.

He was embarrassed to have it called the Phillimore Sports Hall and he definitely wasn’t keen on the big illuminated red letters that the college insisted on putting up.

Ren had always fancied learning to fly a plane, so after a short try at gliding, gained his private pilots licence with the Cinque Ports Flying Club at Lydd airport.

He used to try and fly every Sunday, often taking friends and family on trips over Bexhill and the surrounding areas for a bird’s eye view of the town, or nipping over to Le Touquet or Calais for a quick coffee and croissant.

He flew until the age of 83, and he was eventually honoured with a life membership in recognition of his work for the club.

Ren was a keen supporter of local charities and sporting organisations, both through both his business and also his commitments to Free Masonry, where he became very highly regarded, attaining many top ranking positions.

His two sons have followed his example and become almost as established in the community, with both Martin and Steven attaining the position of chairman of Bexhill Cricket Club and becoming prominent members of other local sporting associations, which made Ren very proud.

Ren is survived by his wife Doris, sons Martin and Steven who will be carrying on the family business as usual, and his loving grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

A celebration of Ren’s life will be held at St Peters Church at 1pm on June 19 to which anyone who knew him is most welcome, along with a private family cremation, followed by a gathering at the Cooden Beach Hotel.

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