A Tribute to Tom Wyles

The tapestry project was the brainchild of our dear friend, Tom Wyles. Sadly, Tom died on February 8th, 2016, only a few months after the stitching of the panels began.

We are now dedicating the tapestry to Tom.

Here is what his friend, and co-founder of the Battle of Stamford Bridge Heritage Society, Chris Rock, wrote after Tom’s death.

Tom Wyles – a man of Vision

Embroidery of Einar Siggurdsson by Lilian Muir

Embroidery of Einar Siggurdsson by Lilian Muir

I am deeply saddened by having to write this column, it is not something I expected or wished to do, however I will endeavour to put a few words down about a man who meant a lot to many, many people.

Tom Wyles, (or 'Einar the thrall' as he liked to be known) passed away on Monday February 8th, he had suffered a major cardiac arrest from which he never recovered, he was aged 63. I have not only lost a close friend and colleague, but also a man of vision, a man with a passion for living and extreme generosity and humour.

Together we both founded the 'Battle of Stamford Bridge Heritage Society' in 2012. I had only met Tom the year before whilst researching information for my book about the battles in York in 1066, we immediately hit it off and discovered we both shared the same love and passions for history and local heritage. Although I only knew him for 5 years and despite him being a 'Monkey Hanger' (someone from Hartlepool), we became great friends and I now relish the private and public time we spent together.

Tom had a vast knowledge of history in the local area, something I often tapped into when necessary, and he was always happy to share it, be it with me, locals, visitors, children and adults. He loved to travel and always wanted to meet new people and share stories or information, and he relished being 'Einar the thrall', (a lowly Viking peasant) whenever he was attending a history event or re-enactment show. He was an accomplished guitarist and enjoyed a sing-song around a fire with a beer to hand, in fact I think Tom was born to be a Viking!

Tom, his wife Theresa, and their dog Toby, at a tapestry project meeting

Tom, his wife Theresa, and their dog Toby, at a tapestry project meeting

Over the 30 years he resided in Stamford Bridge Tom had been socially active, unsurprisingly he was involved in many clubs and societies, and had even been a parish councillor for a while. Among the ones that he was recently involved in were the Hub, the Art Club, the In Bloom group, the local Quiz league, the sports and walking clubs. He was also a very active member of the York based 'Volsung Vikings' living history group, - they will all miss his energy and enthusiasm.

Personally, I have lost my co-founder, a warm and funny conversationalist, and a visionary who only ever wanted to improve the community he lived in. His ideas and plans formed the basis of the Battle of Stamford Bridge Heritage Society, and we intend to see them come to fruition, no matter the time and cost. Tom was the driving force and inspiration behind the Tapestry project, the volunteers involved I am sure, will agree to complete the Tapestry in Toms memory.

It is a cruel irony that the one year Tom was most excited about was 2016, the 950th anniversary of the historic 1066 events. We will all miss him enormously and our condolences and deepest, deepest sympathies go out to his wife, children and family. Tom was someone who you should be so very proud of, I know I was proud to know him for the few precious years he gave to me and the society.

Cheers Tom, and Wassail...