Eastbourne ‘bobby’s’ grand century

Fred Thomas 100 years old on 9th October 2017 (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-171210-103621008
Fred Thomas 100 years old on 9th October 2017 (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-171210-103621008

One of Eastbourne’s original “Bobbies on the beat” has celebrated his 100th birthday this week.

Frederick Thomas, known as Fred, joined Eastbourne County Borough Police in March 1938 and worked his way up through the ranks to become superintendent of the force before he retired in June 1970.

Former Eastbourne Police superintendent Fred Thomas SUS-171210-101922001

Former Eastbourne Police superintendent Fred Thomas SUS-171210-101922001

He celebrated his milestone birthday with a party at The Hydro Hotel at the weekend with his wife Phyllis, their three children, Bryan, who followed his father into the police, Sandra and Pauline, and family members.

Born in Kent on October 9 1917 and despite education at technical school and college, Fred had always harboured an ambition to be a policeman and moved to Eastbourne in the late 1930s to join the local force.

Except for two and a half years compulsory military service in the Reconnaissance Corps during the Second World War, Fred was based in Eastbourne throughout his time in the force.

In the early days of his career, while he was a local Bobby directing traffic outside Eastbourne Railway Station, he noticed a young lady every morning at exactly the same time and discovered she was one of his colleague’s daughters Phyllis Pryce, who worked at Bobby’s, now Debenhams, as a receptionist and part time model.

Fred recalls waiting outside Bobby’s for Phyllis to finish work and they began courting. They married at St Mary’s Church, Old Town, on April 23 1941.

The latter part of Fred’s long life has been volunteering for more than 30 years as a committee member of a number of organisations from scouts and the air training corps to the National Association of Retired Police Officers.

Fred said he considers himself a very lucky man and continues to enjoy a long and happy marriage to Phyllis at their home in Montague Way.