Eulogy – Ian Edward Thornton

Post date: Jan 28, 2016 9:9:35 PM

Our dear friend and colleague, and founder member of SCARA, sadly passed away on the 19th December 2015.  Ian was laid to rest on the 19th January 2016 on a bright sunny day with family, friends, neighbours and colleagues from Glen Line and OCL there to pay their last respects.  

Many people would have known that Ian was a collector of "things which might come in useful one day" and as a result of this his family chose the very apt theme tune from Steptoe and Son to send him on his way.  

The charities chosen for donations in memory of Ian are the British Red Cross and the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity. 

Belinda McCormack

SCARA Hon.Sec.

Eulogy – Ian Edward Thornton

Ian was an only child, born in the Lewisham district of London on 10th March 1939.  Not long afterward his family relocated to Chipstead in Surrey where he endured rather than enjoyed his school days preferring to gaze out of the classroom window making patterns out of clouds than concentrating on his lessons and where he made friends with Clive who would very soon become his best and lifelong friend.  Nowadays the word that would be used to describe them is Scallywag which according to the Oxford English Dictionary means a child who is mischievous but in an amusing rather than a harmful way.  The 2 of them loved cycling and would cycle for miles around.   They both had good appetites and if they were ever invited to each other’s houses for lunch they would accept both invitations; have lunch at one house and then cycle as fast as they could to the next house and eat there as well.

When he left school in 1955 he joined a shipping company called Glen-Line based in EC3.  It was joining this company that was the catalyst in his meeting the lady who would become the love of his life Joan who joined the same year.  She didn’t like him at first and kept saying no every time he asked her out.  However, faint heart never won fair maiden and Ian didn’t give up.  Thankfully she eventually said yes and the rest as they say is history.

Ian left Glen-Line in 1957 when he got his call up papers to do 2 years National Service with the RAF.  There was no romantic flying in spitfires for Ian he spent his 2 years in the RAF infirmary as a male nurse.   Thankfully his job was kept open for him and he returned to it when he got his discharge papers in 1959.    Ian stayed with the same company all his working life through many mergers take overs and renaming’s. 

Ian and Joan were married in 1962 beginning married life in a flat in Oakfield Road.  Their son Andy was born in 1966 and soon afterwards Ian and Joan swapped their flat for a house in the same street.  At first they were only able to live in one room as the rest of the house was in a state of disrepair.  They didn’t mind though as it was their home and they were happy and until recent events it had remained the family home for almost 50 years.  When Alison was born in 1968 the Thornton family was complete.  Their family holidays were always happy laughing times mainly spent in Bed and Breakfasts in either Yorkshire or Wales.

He was very proud to give Alison away the day she married Duncan in 1989 and was there supporting Andy all the way when he married Theresa in Florida in 1996.  He has since been made a very proud grandad 5 times over to Connor, Katie, Emma, Amy and Sophie. He loved spending time with all of them, hearing their news and gossip and actively encouraging them in their hobbies and interests. Passing on his knowledge and teaching his grandchildren life skills brought him great pleasure and a sense of accomplishment. 

Being part of Oakfield Road for so many years Ian has seen many residents come and go.  He was instrumental in organising the Southgate carnival floats along with many of the roads occupants with various success from year to year.  There were many street parties held, the Queens Silver Jubilee in 1977 and Charles and Diana’s wedding in1981 to name just a couple. Ian joined an Oakfield Road committee to help organise a celebration of the 100 year anniversary of Oakfield Road in 2010 and more recently a Christmas Carol event.

Over the years Ian has earned the name of ‘Mr Shifter’ as he was always the man his neighbours would go to if they needed something or if they needed help with anything.  He was always known to keep many unusual and interesting things in his back room, then in the shed and then at the bottom of the garden that he just knew would come in handy one day – but when that day came the big question was would he be able to find it.

When he retired 21 years ago Ian didn’t just sit back and do nothing taking things easy.  Instead he remained in contact with all his old colleagues and found a new lease of life.  He was Hon. Secretary for Glen McGregor Association a post he held for the last 14 years.  It was his job to find all ex-employees and collate all their information about ships and ports from around the world, to hold 2 functions per year and to publish a newsletter 3 times a year keeping them all ‘in the loop’ as well as other more informal gatherings throughout the year. He was also a founder member of SCARA in 2006 and an active committee member.

Ian also made time for hobbies and interests although they were varied and few.  He loved DIY and would tackle any project no matter how big or how small with confidence.  He loved to listen to debates on LBC Radio and when it came to watching the television he preferred the old comedy classics or period dramas like Mr Selfridge to other light entertainment.   His passion though was collecting things of interest – not only to him but to anyone else who may be in need of that very thing.

When his beloved Joan’s health became of concern Ian cared for her; a role he took on lovingly and willingly for 5 years until her brave battle was finally lost in 2007.  His universal constant who had been by his side for over 45 years was gone but after a while, with the loving support of his family, his good friends, and those special and close to his heart, he managed to adapt reasonably well to life without her. 


His own health became a cause for concern in August and then at the end of November last year.  His passing on 19th December was too soon for those he has left behind.  He was a unique and special man who loved all his family unconditionally; who loved life and loved helping people. Whatever Ian did he made a difference; wherever Ian went he made a memory and who ever Ian met he made a friend. He was a big man with a big heart.  Ian has touched the lives of so many people over the years often without realising it and the world is now going to seem a smaller, emptier and a much sadder place without him.

See also: Original SCARA notice of 04-Jan-2016