SWAY Bridge Club founder and former New Forest Mencap vice president Tom Pepper has passed away at the age of 74.
After spending much of his professional life as a computer programmer and consultant, Tom converted to a bridge teacher and spent 24 years pursuing his second career.
His passion for gambling was ignited in early childhood when his parents Cecil, a scientist, and Phyllis, an accountant, showed him the basics when he was just four years old.
Demonstrating a natural aptitude for this, Tom continued to play in competitions and club matches throughout his life.
In his youth he was also an accomplished sportsman and enjoyed cricket, rugby, tennis, golf and fishing.
Tom’s father, Dr Cecil Pepper, Managing Director of Duckham’s Oils, who invented the famous Duckham’s 20-50, has died aged 45 when Tom was just 12.
A skilled mathematician, Tom had planned to train as an accountant after graduating, but after encountering the first computers while on vacation at Ronson, the lightermaker, his professional ambitions changed.
He joined Kellogg International in Baker Street, London, in 1965 as a programmer and was quickly promoted to chief programmer.
He met his future wife Sue in London in 1968 and two years later they were married before moving to New Milton where the family began to grow.
Tom was an avid gardener, with vegetables being his favorite, it was a passion he maintained throughout his life. Tom and Sue have been involved with several New Forest charities providing care and support to families with children with learning disabilities. They also acquired the first of many English Setters, which they then bred for several years.
Tom worked for Atlantic Container Lines, spending four years commuting between Southampton, Toronto and New York every fortnight. He also traveled regularly to Scandinavian countries for ACL.
In the 1970s the family moved to a small farm in Downton where they grew vegetables in a walled garden and raised various animals. Tom also played bridge competitively when the weather permitted.
He then set up his own IT consulting company, TWP Ltd, supporting businesses in the south. Tom is remembered by colleagues for his encouragement, kindness and unwavering support in advancing their careers.
After retiring from the computer industry, Tom converted to a bridge teacher working for Brockenhurst College and offering private lessons. His second career was a great success, teaching hundreds of people, and he loved the role, continuing for 24 years and earning himself a reputation for his patience, kindness and sense of humor.
Tom has also played in tournaments, competitions and socially throughout his life, leading him to set up Sway Bridge Club in 2008. Its objective was to create a friendly club open to all levels.
He was also a committee member and vice-chairman of New Forest Mencap and a long-time supporter of the Stable Family Home Trust. Together he and Sue have raised thousands of pounds for these charities through various fundraising events including quiz nights, tennis tournaments and sales.
Sadly, Tom passed away suddenly just two months before he and Sue celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.
He is survived by Sue, his children Kate, Lizzie, Tom and Alex, and his grandchildren Willow, Martha, Iris, William and Ellie.
A private funeral has taken place, but anyone wishing to donate in Tom’s memory can give the Stable Family Home Trust the care of Tapper Funeral Services, Milford.