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TOM PERCY GRAY - BORN 1897 - Southampton, Hampshire

I have not yet researched fully, the life of Tom Percy Gray. However I can quote from the book "Children of Northam" written by his niece, Joan Gale.

"Tom Gray started work at the Day Summers Yard at the age of fourteen. Working as an eager little board boy, he was even then ambitious.

At the age of sixteen he went to India with the Hampshire Regiment during the First World War: three more uncles were in the same group.

Returning to Southampton Docs five years later, he was met by his sister Minnie and his niece. Minnie was proud of her quite handsome young brother and they moved forward to welcome him as he disembarked from the troop-ship: he spoke to them in an educated voice with tone, quite new. His mode of speech was attractive, without a trace of the original Northam accent.

He went on to receive a course of education through Oxford and also steadily developed his charm of manner.

He belonged to the Southampton Operatic Society and became a leading light there. He attained the position of Social Secretary at the YMCA in London, Tottenham Court Road.

He went to the Middle East during the Second World War and wore the uniform of a commissioned officer, received as a courtesy title, while organising entertainment for the troops.

He was a polished singer and performer himself and a man of quality. For his efforts abroad he was awarded the MBE.

Although something of an extrovert, he was still modest and only very quietly pleased with his achievements. He remained unmarried.

In the spring of 1963 this Tom Percy Gray, child of Northam, was ordained as priest by the Archbishop of Canterbury. It was then rather late in life, for he was 65 years old. He returned to preach one day, in St Augustine's Church before his retirement.

In the 1930's he often used to stay with his sister Minnie and her family, his mother's house in Cable Street, was then still the home of serveral unmarried brothers of Tom's.

Normally he wore a morning suit to church, but on that one occasion, he wore plus fours.

He died quite suddenly in 1972 and was brought home to Northam. His coffin placed on a purple draped catafalque below the steps of the altar where so long ago, he had delivered a sermon from almost the very spot where his body now rested.

He was a kind and generous man and had a wonderful sense of humour, inherent in the family Gray as a whole.