THOMAS Albert York Vickers, who left school at 16 and worked his way up to become a significant figure in the glass industry, opening up export markets, has died aged 83.
He was a determined and proud Yorkshireman who always knew what he wanted to achieve and would not let anything stand in his way, while at the same time being generous and caring to others.
Such was his determination that when working in Leeds as an apprentice he cycled daily to and from his home in Barnsley, having bought a bicycle for which he paid 2/6d (12½p in today’s money) a week – a substantial amount in those days – until it was paid for
Mr Vickers was born in Royston, near Barnsley. He was the youngest of three children, and the only son, of Thomas, a violinist, and Elsie Vickers.
He was educated at Barnsley Technical College before becoming a mechanical engineering apprentice at Greenwood & Batley engineers, at Armley, in Leeds.
At 21 he was called up for National Service in the Royal Navy being promoted to Petty Officer by the time he had completed it.
He returned to Greenwood & Batley, by then as a draughtsman, and also went back to Barnsley Technical College three nights a week, to study for his Ordinary and Higher National Certificate in Mechanical Engineering.
He then moved to Vickers Armstrong, in Wakefield as a senior draughtsman, and later to Beatson Clarke, in Barnsley as a glass engineer, which was his introduction to the glass industry.
In 1965 he joined Johnson Radley, of Grangefield, Pudsey – later part of United Glass Company – which until he arrived did not export its products. He became in charge of exports, and throughout the 1970s he travelled the world opening up new fields for the company in South America, the Far East and Australia.
He eventually became managing director, a position he held until he retired aged 66.
He also wrote a number of papers and lectured on glass production within the industry.
On retiring, he threw himself into his great love of sport but now as a spectator. He was a season ticket holder at Leeds United and Wakefield Trinity.
He also had a great love of horse racing, so much so that 17 years ago he arrived home one day with his younger son, Richard, announcing that they had bought a racehorse.
They subsequently owned several horses that were trained by Great Habton’s Classic-winning trainer Tim Easterby, and James Bethell at Middleham who described them as “lucky owners” as they have enjoyed considerable success.
In his younger days Mr Vickers played several sports.
He was junior boxing champion for his weight of Barnsley, the number one ranked table tennis player for Wakefield, and a useful cricketer as an all-rounder with Yorkshire Nomads and Leeds Zingari.
Mr Vickers is survived by June his wife of 52 years, sons David and Richard, three grandsons and a granddaughter.