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Obituary: Tom Merifield – longstanding New Milton town councillor

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RETIRED chartered surveyor and longstanding former New Milton town councillor Thomas Merifield has died at the age of 95.

A keen sportsman who especially enjoyed sailing, cricket and golf, Tom spent much of his working life in the Far East where he was involved in the construction of Malaysia’s Parliament House.

His son Rob said: “He was highly intelligent, wise, and witty, with a great sense of humour and was very hard working. He was also generous and kind, always keen to help others.”

Tom Merifield was a New Milton town councillor for 12 years
Tom Merifield was a New Milton town councillor for 12 years

Tom was a councillor for New Milton for 12 years from 2003 to 2015, stepping down when he was approaching his 90th birthday.

New Milton Mayor David Hawkins presented him with an award to recognise his long service and commitment to the council.

Born in September 1925 in the Cornish village of Barripper, Tom and his family later relocated to Dorset where he attended Bournemouth School for Boys.

Upon leaving there, he volunteered for the army and was commissioned to the Royal Engineers. With the war in Europe drawing to a close, Tom volunteered for a posting to the 14th Army fighting in Burma. But after going on a Far Eastern warfare course at Matlock in Derbyshire, he was instead posted to Egypt.

Tom always looked back fondly on his time in Egypt and especially remembered his faithful German shepherd dog who would consistently drag him back to shore by the arm every time he went for a dip in the local lake.

After demob Tom trained to be a chartered quantity surveyor, working in London after qualifying. He married Brenda and had two sons, Clive, who died of cancer, and Steven.

Always keen for adventure, Tom joined PWD and Taylor Woodrow in Malaysia in the 1950s, where he was responsible for one of his greatest professional achievements – the building of Malaysia’s Parliament House.

He then went on to set up his own company, Merifield Construction, in Singapore, and lived and worked in the Far East until 1987, with his second wife Evelyn and two sons Robert and Colin.

In retirement Tom and Evelyn settled into their new life in New Milton and enjoyed spending time in the New Forest. Tom appreciated the cooler weather and fresh spring and autumn days, but after so many years in tropical climates he was never tempted to swim on the English coast.

His son Rob said: “My father was always full of life, with a passion for sport, the outdoors, his work, his friends, his cats and most of all his family.

“He was also strong willed, enjoyed a good discussion or debate, sometimes stubborn, but always fair.”

Tom died in Oakhaven Hospice on 28th August after battling cancer since 2019. He is survived by Evelyn, sons Steven, Robert and Colin, and grandchildren Emily, Thomas, Hannah and Samuel.

A funeral has been held but anyone wishing to donate in his memory can give to Oakhaven Hospice.

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