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Obituary: William Wild – engineer, guesthouse manager and sailor

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TRIBUTES have been paid to William Wild, an innovative electronics engineer from Lymington who has died aged 94.

Bill, as he was known, was a well-respected member of the community having lived in the town since 1968.

His family said: “Bill will be remembered as a thoughtful, loving, kind and gentle man.”

Bill emigrated to the UK in 1954
Bill emigrated to the UK in 1954

Born in Hamilton, New Zealand, to Allan and Hazel, Bill was the middle child. His father was a First World War veteran who served at Gallipoli and had a dairy and pig farm, with cream going to the local butter factory. Bill often milked the cows before school.

He attended Hamilton Technical School where he took matriculation exams and finished top nationally in the civil service entrance tests.

Bill went on to the University of New Zealand, as it was then known, and excelled, gaining two degrees – in engineering from Canterbury College and maths from Auckland College.

In the late 1940s, as part of his engineering training Bill worked on the Karapiro Dam and at the Devonport Naval Dockyard in Auckland.

Seeking greater opportunities, Bill emigrated to the UK in 1954, sailing from Auckland to Southampton in – a journey which cost £92 and was almost exactly the reverse trip of great-grandfather Alfred Wild in 1863.

He worked as a development engineer in avionics
He worked as a development engineer in avionics

In England he worked as a development engineer in avionics for Standard Telephones and Cables and in 1966 won an award for his work developing automated landing systems and the world’s leading radio altimeter.

Later he worked on developing satellite broadcasting at the Independent Broadcasting Authority and sometimes worked on broadcasting global events, including the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall.

Bill met wife-to-be Margaret Seton at a jazz dance hall in London in 1957. They married on his 33rd birthday in 1960 and 60 years later in 2020 received a card from the Queen congratulating them on their diamond wedding anniversary.

They moved to Lymington in 1968 to bring up their young family while enjoying the countryside and sea. Bill sailed his small sail cruiser Peewit and subsequently catamarans and a West Wight Potter.

The couple also ran the Admiral’s House guest house in Stanley Road for 30 years, giving accommodation to visitors from all around the world.

Bill enjoyed tinkering with cars and owned a Model T Ford, Austin 7, Morris Minor, Heinkel Kabine – or bubble car – and a bright orange Bond Bug three-wheeler.

On his 90th birthday
On his 90th birthday

He played rugby, squash, was an avid reader and loved jazz – he and Margaret were regulars at the trad-jazz nights at The Haywain, Cadnam. He also made a number of trips back to New Zealand, Germany, Japan and Australia visiting family.

Throughout his life Bill was interested in his ancestry and found he was descended from Sir Rhys ap Thomas, the knight who supposedly killed Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth.

He also found out his great-uncle was a US Civil War general, and that Wild family forebears came from the New Forest and the Isle of Wight.

Bill, who regularly donated to epilepsy charities, was later diagnosed with Parkinson’s. His family have asked any donations be made to Parkinson’s UK or the Epilepsy Society.

Bill is survived by Margaret, their four children, nine grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.

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