|6 Jan 2021|
|Deaths & Obituaries|
Harry (Malcolm) MacNicol
Obituary written by Antony Bowring, Malcolm's son-in-law
Born on 15th December 1926, died on 31st October 2020.
Malcolm, as he was known by all, joined Tonbridge School in 1941. He boarded in Parkside House in the care of Reverend Page and started in Form II under the tutelage of Mr Bathurst. Malcolm soon joined the school choir, the Music Society and developed skills learning to play the chapel organ with Head of Music, Dr Alan Bunny. He also enjoyed the Debating Society and the Photographic Club. His prowess on the sport’s field is unclear. In his memoires, which give a fascinating insight into school life during the war years, he doesn’t give any evidence of being an enthusiastic sportsman himself but he was a proud supporter of the school’s rugby and cricket teams. In the early 40’s school life was greatly influenced by the war. Much physical activity was devoted to growing vegetables, helping local farmers and the residents of Tonbridge. Nights were frequently interrupted by air raids and meals were limited due to food rationing. Nevertheless Malcolm enjoyed his time at Tonbridge. His favourite studies were Art under Mr Hervey- Edwards, Chemistry and Carpentry with “Boosy” Hawkes.
All boys had to join the OTC and were issued with First World War khaki uniforms, army boots and long puttees. Thursdays were devoted to military drills and parades under physics teacher Major “Bucket” Dixon. Cadets learned rifle and machine gun cleaning, stripping and care as well as map reading, compass work, shooting, first aid and elementary tactics – all skills that served Malcolm well when he joined the army having graduated from school with respectable exam results in Maths, Mechanical drawing, English language, English literature, French, Chemistry and Physics.
Following training at Blenheim Camp near Bury St Edmunds, Malcolm spent the last throes of WW2 in Egypt. After the war he enjoyed many years of involvement with the Territorial Army while professionally he trained as a vintner. However, for most of his working life Malcolm enjoyed a life connected to the sea, as a yacht broker, delivery skipper and proprietor of a chandlery.
Malcolm was born in Hampshire and grew up in Kent within a very close and loving family with three siblings. In the late 1980’s Malcolm and his first wife Sheila (known to all as ‘Tommy’) packed up their home of 37 years in Sussex, closed their yacht brokerage and chandlery, and moved to Parham in Suffolk to be near their grandchildren.
Malcolm, being an especially gregarious man, was soon making friends around the parish. He started by volunteering to deliver the parish magazine which he did with great panache using the new GPS system (Sat Nav) to locate parishioners’ homes. Much to their surprise and delight he was able to inform them of their precise latitude and longitude.
He also volunteered to play the organ in Parham church, something he would do, he said, for just a couple of years. He finally retired from this 25 years later when he reached 90, but he continued to help out whenever he could.
He loved parties and community gatherings - apart from annual church and village fetes there were parties to honour diverse events from Lord Nelson’s bicentenary to solar eclipses. There were also garden parties, and even parties to celebrate the apple harvest. In his irrepressible way, Malcolm used any reason he could think of to get together with neighbours, friends and family, always playing the jovial host with great bonhomie.
Sadly Tommy died after only 3 years of living in Suffolk. Sometime later Malcolm met Daphne and they went on to enjoy 25yrs together.
They sang in the choir, they sailed, they travelled the world and they gardened. Planting trees was high on his list of priorities. Many of the now quite substantial trees around the village of Parham were planted by Malcolm and Daphne, including a Millennial Oak and accompanying seat on the village green.
Every year, in September, he took part in the Suffolk Historic Churches bike ride. He must have entered this event at least 20 times, most recently when he was nearly 90 and very wobbly. To this day he holds the county record for cycling to the most number of churches in any single year (60 miles-50 churches). It was an expensive business if he persuaded you to sponsor him for each church he visited.
He was a talented carpenter and mechanic; he spent so many hours in his beloved barns that one grandchild actually thought he lived in them. One of his long term projects was finished three years ago - he had built a gypsy caravan to 2/3rd scale. It was the perfect size for Malcolm and Daphne and for anyone with a similar stature especially grandchildren.
He took a keen interest in the history of the region and was once a volunteer guide at nearby Framlingham Castle where he enthralled children with stories of battles and chivalry (most of which he dreamt up to arouse their interest). For the last five years he was a recorder for Suffolk Local History Council.
Over the last few years he suffered increasingly from bad circulation. In October he went to hospital and after a couple of operations sadly he slipped away peacefully early in the morning of Saturday 31st October.
Malcolm made many friends during his time at Tonbridge School with whom he remained in touch throughout his long and active life.