Well over 200 family and friends from the hunting, racing, cricketing and farming world attended the cremation service held for Tom Sanderson in July. A wonderful address was given by Steven Clark, but typically of Tom he had left Steven a letter and notes to assist him. Always meticulous and efficient in everything he did.
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Born in 1925 to a family dedicated to the well being of the Ecclesfield Beagles Tom was always proud to tell people that his first trip to the Ecclesfield Kennels was when he was 14 days old. His father, known to everyone as Tom, and Uncle Jonty both whipped in to the beagles and were active committee members. Tom was the eldest of four children; Roger, Jeff and Helen. All were brought up in the family home on Cross Lane, Sheffield, which in those days was still a farm with milk cows, working horses and ponies for him and his siblings to ride from an early age. This start in life probably accounts for his ability to communicate with anyone in the rural community from a duke to a shepherd. He knew and understood farmers, their problems and concerns, and was able to convince them that allowing the beagles on their land caused neither hardship nor harm!
Tom was educated locally to a high standard but his passion was sport, being school Captain of both the cricket and football teams, and he went on to play local cricket to a good standard for the next forty years. During the war he served in the RAF in India and afterwards spent the rest of his working life with Royal Hospital Staff in Sheffield.
In the summer of 1949 Tom met Marjory and they married in 1951. They had two daughters Mary in 1954 and Anne in 1957. Neither praise nor emotion came easy to Tom, you might say he preferred the stick to the carrot. He set high standards of himself and others and a rating could he expected for non attainment. However Tom made it abundantly clear how both proud and appreciative he was of Marjory, Mary and Anne for all the support they gave him in his sporting activities.
His hunting credentials were among the best in the country. In 1945 he was made a whip with his brother Roger and they were both put on the Ecclesfield committee. In 1957 he took on the role of hunt secretary and in 1960 he became huntsman, taking over from his Uncle Jonty Sanderson who had been huntsman for the previous 30 seasons. Jonty was very much his role model, not just as huntsman but also an avid follower of point to points and a keen cricketer.
One of Tom’s great strengths was the way in which he encouraged young people into beagling and passed on his knowledge, words of wisdom and guidance to so many. As huntsman he had many good days and had three outstanding young men whipping into him in Peter Penthick, Peter Lindsey and Phillip Kime. In 1970 Tom retired as huntsman and secretary, and had a short break when he travelled the country visiting other packs but he still kept closely involved with the Ecclesfield. In 1975 the Earl of Wharncliffe asked Tom to join him in the Mastership, Tom was very proud to accept and from there on Tom excelled in many ways as he continued to build on the excellent relations he already had with the farming community and opening country for the beagles. He worked tirelessly at the kennels collecting fallen stock and doing repairs and maintenance work. In 1985 when the animal liberation front stole the Ecclesfield Hounds he took on the responsibility of rebuilding the pack and moving the kennels on to the Wharncliffe Estate. With his close friend and Ecclesfield Committee Member, Peter Binns, he went about organising and helping build new kennels.
Tom continued throughout his Mastership to encourage young beaglers in particular Steve Duckmanton who hunted the Ecclesfield from 1982 to ’85 and still hunts the Dummer Beagles with great success, also Myself, Ian Baker, Fraser Wakerley, Steve Clark and Paul Mcpherson to mention a few of those he encouraged.
Tom was also greatly respected as a judge of hounds, judging at most of the major hound shows including three times at Peterbrough and countless puppy shows, often with his close friend Michael Farrin. He served on the beagle committee for the Yorkshire Show for many years. Tom’s other great passion was Point to Point Racing. He followed the point to points throughout the midlands and the north all his life and always had a great eye for the horses. He knew their form and more often than not he came away from a day’s racing in his words “Maybe a pound or two up”.
In 1993 Tom retired as Master and I clearly remember in his retirement speech came more words of wisdom “Remember the Good and Dismiss the Bad”. I am sure he would not want me to forget to mention the terrific support he had throughout his Mastership from the hunt secretary Mona Lindsey and his brother Roger as treasurer. His retirement from the Mastership was by no means the end of Tom’s involvement with the Ecclesfield; he was immediately made Hon Life Member and continued to attend almost every meet, he went to the kennel most days and over saw the hound breeding. He also brought on yet another protégé in Adrian Barlow who served the Ecclesfield from 1996 to 2000 as professional huntsman and then returned in 2006 and became Joint Master in 2011. It gave Tom great pleasure to know the Ecclesfield were in good hands. As usual he had attended the kennels on the Monday morning prior to his passing to see that everything was in order.
Last but not least Tom was a proud grandfather to Daniel who is following in his grandfather’s footsteps as a keen footballer and cricketer.