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Tributes paid to former Lymington mayor Graham Wales

TRIBUTES have been paid to former Lymington mayor Graham Wales, who has died aged 91.

Born in 1932 to Lovel and Kathleen Wales, Graham was the younger brother of Mollie and Robert.

All the siblings shared the middle name Hamilton, the original surname of their Scottish great-grandfather.

The late Graham Wales
The late Graham Wales

Graham grew up and was educated in Guildford, in a poor area of the town where he shared classes with children whose families could not afford to buy them shoes.

Like his sister and brother, Graham was selected to attend Guildford Central School, now the George Abbot School, and later got his first job working for British Rail in the motive power department.

Later he worked at his uncle’s ironmongery business in Godalming, before joining fashion company Jaeger as a ‘study practitioner’ in production, and then being promoted to production controller.

Graham met his future wife Pat at a club in Guildford and they tied the knot in 1956, honeymooning on the Isle of Man while the TT races were on.

The young newlyweds lived in flats in Guildford before moving to a house called Lady Garden cottage in Godalming, and later an old toll house called the Round House in Chiddingfold, Surrey.

The couple adopted their first son Ben, closely followed by Toby, both also have ‘Hamilton’ in their names.

In 1970 the family moved to Lymington and, in partnership with Pat’s father and stepmother, started a business called Maxwell Hamilton, selling leather, sports and travel goods.

In the mid-1970s Graham was elected to serve on Lymington’s neighbourhood ouncil, which later became Lymington and Pennington Town Council. He went on to serve as town mayor from 1981 to 1983.

After this he was elected as an independent councillor for Lymington ward on the district council, serving for 12 years and later declining an invitation to be chair. He maintained his town council work during this time, serving on the authority for 20 years.

After his retirement, Graham’s colleagues named him a ‘burgher’ in recognition of his service to the town, a title which gave him the authority to drive flocks of sheep along Lymington’s high street – should he wish – and to host a stall in the charter market.

Graham was invited to join Lymington’s Rotary club in 1976 and became its president in 1984. He earned a Paul Harris Fellow in 1997 in recognition of his work with the club.

Among his other roles, Graham was president of the Lymington Literary Institute, the first Lymington Scout group, the town band, and St John Ambulance Lymington Division, for which he was awarded the Order of St John in 2013.

He was chair of the Queen Elizabeth jubilee trust committee and the New Forest Villages Association, and served for many years on the Lymington and District Chamber of Commerce and Trade.

Graham passed away at his home with his son Toby and Toby’s fiancé Mandy at his side. He leaves behind sons Ben and Toby and grandchildren Abigail and Finlay.

Toby said: “Dad was an incredibly kind and caring man. He was genuinely interested in everything and everyone he encountered and always wanted to know how you were, before ever speaking about himself – although he would never answer the phone on a Monday evening when University Challenge was on the TV.

“Even towards the end of his life, while being looked after by carers, he always had a smile and wouldn’t let his situation affect his sense of humour. As a dad, he was always supportive of everything Ben and I ever did, irrespective of whether he wholly agreed with some of our decisions.

“His primary aim was for the two of us to grow up to be strong and independent – much like himself – and I think he achieved that.”

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