24th March 1926 – 19th January 2014

The knowledge and understanding that  Tom brought to the post of principal did not stem from books alone, although these played their part. They also came from his experience gained as a seafarer and from the world of ships, the affairs of ships and the men who go down to the sea in ships. His quiet efficiency, his grasp of college affairs and his total respect for the staff and their problems have been a hallmark throughout his term as principal. He made himself accessible to staff at all times and this was greatly appreciated by all those who availed themselves of the opportunity to seek his advice on all manner of issues. His advice and expertise were also sought throughout the United Kingdom as is demonstrated by his membership of a wide variety of boards and committees associated with maritime education. There are very few areas indeed in the nautical scene where the name of Tom Ireland does not spark a memory of friendly and respectful recognition.

His career began just over 70 years ago when this nation was at war and was fighting for its very existence. Tom signed on his first Blue Funnel ship as a Deck Apprentice and very soon found himself in the Mediterranean on a Malta convoy. He took part in the invasion of Sicily and Italy and was present, in turn, at the invasion of Normandy where his ship had the misfortune to be torpedoed. However, the ship survived and so did Tom and he saw service in the North Atlantic before sailing to the Pacific Theatre of war. VE Day found him in Calcutta. Service in the Merchant Navy during the Second World War turned boys into men very quickly, and for those who survived it brought a realisation that peace is a very precious commodity.

During the period immediately following the war he was on the America, Australia and New Zealand run before settling down to the normal Blue Funnel run of UK, South Africa, Australia and the Far East. It was certainly a seagoing career of which Tom could have been justifiably proud.

In 1954 however, Tom decided to “swallow the anchor” and accepted a post as lecturer in navigation in Leith Nautical College. It was obvious that a good man couldn’t be kept down and in 1966 he was appointed Master-in-Charge of their sail training ship. His ability was further recognised when he was appointed Head of Department of Navigation and then to the post of Depute Principal. Many of the subsequent advances made in the college were attributed in no small measure to Tom Ireland’s endeavours.

He bade Leith a fond farewell in 1975 when he took up the post of Principal of The Nautical College, Fleetwood. This was the occasion on which I met Tom for the first time, and along with other staff working at the college I felt his arrival came like a breath of fresh air. He immediately announced his availability for consultation and counselling to all staff and indeed was as good as his word by ensuring his office door was always open unless already engaged. (This reminded former seafarers of their previous experience at sea where one’s cabin door was often left ajar as a sign to fellow crew members when they are “welcome to call” (other than when the curtain was drawn across the doorway, meaning “Tap gently and peek first – I may be having a snooze!”)  Tom’s quiet but firm professional manner plus his encouragement of social events combined to take the college forward by expanding into new areas of development while engendering an atmosphere of  cooperation and enthusiasm throughout the staff structure, fusing both teaching and support members into a single body of staff motivated to improve the college.

Tom’s stay in Fleetwood lasted only three years, although he is still remembered fondly and highly respected by all those who worked under him over that period.

In 1978 Tom and his wife, Jean, returned to Scotland when he was offered the post of Principal at Glasgow College of Nautical Studies. Here Tom was to meet a further challenge to his skills of leadership when, along with other UK training establishments, the college began to feel the effects of a downturn and a significantly reduced need for trained seafarers. The reduction in the Merchant Fleet manifested itself, as far as nautical education was concerned, in the need to reduce the number of UK colleges offering this type of training. There followed a grim period in the history of nautical studies resulting in the closure of many marine departments in colleges throughout the UK. Indeed, Glasgow College of Nautical Studies was itself fighting for its life and the college owed a debt of gratitude to Tom Ireland for remaining resolute and brave throughout a long, and sometimes bitter, struggle for survival. The college emerged supreme at the culmination of the struggle as the only official establishment in Scotland providing a full range of nautical education.

The college additionally took on a community role that required substantial modifications to not only the teaching accommodation but also to the staff skills, not to mention the huge problem of reinventing the image of the college. It was my fortune to be appointed to the post of Head of Department of Telecommunications and Electronics in 1982, at the beginning of this challenging period, and so again experienced Tom’s leadership skills at first hand. As ever I found him firm but fair and still a principal who encouraged a positive outlook by all staff and welcomed communication literally with an open door. However, he had a wry sense of humour and I learned to be very careful how I worded any issue presented to him. When I once went to see him and announced “Tom, I’ve got a problem!” his reply was “Good, I’ve got plenty to be going on with, let me know when you have solved it!” On another occasion I was feeling particularly snowed under by the work load and an incessant flow of material into my in-tray which had built up to a depth hitherto considered impossible. Nevertheless I thought I should find a few minutes to give my brain a short rest and headed for the staff common room for a coffee break. On finding Tom already there and alone, I said as I walked in “Tom, do we EVER get something here one could even remotely describe as a LULL?” His prompt reply was “Aye – we’re having one now!” Tom continued to encourage social activities in the college including events such as staff dances and Christmas parties and usually attended accompanied by Jean, both of whom mingled with all present throughout the evening. He also instituted an annual dinner for senior staff to attend with their partners, which all involved found so enjoyable it soon doubled to twice yearly. The success was such that the following principal continued this arrangement after Tom’s retirement.

I never met anyone who had anything except good to say about Tom, both as a competent and fair manager and as a man with whom one could feel totally at ease socially. In the words of a colleague at Glasgow, “He was a true gentleman.” I can’t think of a simpler or more accurate epithet to summarise the way we all felt about him.

Having lost Jean a few years previously, Tom had subsequently moved to the south of England to be near his daughter’s home. Tom’s funeral was held there on Thursday 6th February 2014. However, Tom and Jean’s wishes were for them to have their ashes interred together in the churchyard of St Madoes & Kinfauns Parish Church, a small church where they were married. Accordingly a remembrance service was held at the church, near Perth, at 1130 on Wednesday 19th February 2014. It was a fine, calm, sunny day which was mild for the time of year. Thankfully I was able to accept an invitation to join the small group of family members, along with my wife and a number of colleagues from the college in Glasgow, for the service and the commitment.

Alan Hinch

With thanks to Sandy Smith, a former Head of Engineering and subsequently Principal at Glasgow after Tom Ireland, for early historical information.

Donations, if desired, may be made online at by searching for “In memory of Tom Ireland 5279014”.




 I first knew Ted Hackett as a colleague when he joined the teaching staff at The Nautical College, Fleetwood and a firm friendship quickly  followed. Indeed, it would have been next to impossible not to like Ted. A big man with an air of quiet confidence mingled with an infectious sense of humour gave him an immediate appeal to all who met him. In all the years I knew him I never heard anyone express any negative views of his work or his character. As a teacher his thorough preparation and competent delivery was an inspiration to his students, while amongst his colleagues in the staffroom he was always happy to assist and cooperate with tasks in hand and to progress new developments with enthusiasm. I have never met anyone before or since with such a positive attitude to his work and to life in general.

Outside college work hours, Ted was usually found joining any social activities from Badminton to dances and outings. On these occasions he was joined by his wife, Barbara, who shared Ted’s appreciation of the opportunity for enjoyment and expanding the circle of friendship. An obviously happy marriage, their enthusiasm was infectious and their joint company was always welcomed at any event or gathering. For my own part, a firm friendship blossomed between the couples so that my wife and I joined Ted and Barbara on many other occasions visiting each other’s homes. This later expanded to include the next generation, so that our respective children became friends and henceforth the two sets of parents have maintained an enduring focus on the developments and careers of each other’s family.

Later in his career Ted took on a senior role in the Association of Marine Electronics and Radio Colleges (AMERC) as an examiner, working as a direct assistant to the Chief Examiner Eric Lamb. This involved Ted in a considerable amount of travel, flying to far distant continents to conduct examinations.

Beyond his professional life Ted successfully applied to become a magistrate. Thankfully it has never been my fate to fall under the gaze and deliberations of any magistrate, but if that had ever happened I can’t imagine I would have found myself judged by a fairer man and I would have had every confidence that justice would have prevailed.

Ted was very proud of his family name, and I still recall with amusement his reaction when he discovered there is a place in Northern Ireland, near Coleraine, called Ballyhackett. This is a local beauty spot with its own small car park and a viewpoint over this splendid scenic landscape and coastline. Ted and Barbara were visiting the nearby village of Articlave to attend the marriage of my son, and it became imperative I provide navigational directions to enable Ted to pay homage to this so nearly identical reflection of his name.

Ted’s positive attitude was such that he battled his illness to the very end, never once accepting that a way could not be found for him to continue. It is so typical of Ted that he named his house “LAFALOT”. I will never again be able to press that bell push without thoughts of him and happier times flooding back into my mind. You were a lovely man Ted, and we all miss you loads. The world is so much a poorer place without you!

Alan Hinch

Jean Pilgrim - RIP

(by James Clarke - amended 21/08/12)


"It is a sad duty of mine to advise of the death of Jean, the wife of our friend and former lecturer/Head of Radio & Radar, Ray Pilgrim. Jean died 1st July '12 in Trinity Hospice, Bispham after losing her brave fight with cancer. Jean would have celebrated her 84th birthday in October '12. Jean & Ray celebrated their Diamond Wedding Anniversry in 2011 and they first met at Northgate Grammar School, Ipswich when Ray was a year ahead of Jean. They met again in February 1949 at the Aunt Salley Dance Hall, Ipswich after Ray was demobbedi from his Royal Navy service on minesweepers. Jean trained as a school teacher and revelled in her role as Reception Class teacher at schools in her native Ipswich, Bridlington, St Edmund's and others in the Fleetwood area".


She will be sadly missed by many friends and family including husband Ray, children Nick, Simon, Jeremy, Christopher and 11 grandchildren.


"Over the past 3 years Sue and I got to know Jean quite well as we visited several times each year as part of organising the 2010 Runion and again in planning the 2nd Reunion for 22 September 2012. I will never forget her outburst of laughter when she first met me in Spring of 2010 when Sue and I called to discuss the Inaugural Reunion plans. She was tickled to see that I, a former student of Ray from 1969, now sported a head of grey but diminishing hair. She was a most interesting person full of get-up-and-go despite having been afflicted by several conditions that restricted her movement and also a rapidly deteriorating eyesight. Unwilling to give up she persisted in joining-in every event and certainly lived life to the full".


"Our sincere sympathy is extended to Ray, their children and grandchildren, and their families at this sad time".


John Bonner (By Ray Pilgrim) 

"I am sorry to report that our old friend and colleague, John Bonner, died in hospital in Orkney on 17 June 2011.

John was on the teaching staff at Fleetwood Nautical College from January 1967 until 1970 when he left to take up a post at Leith Nautical College.

He had considerable experience and extensive knowledge in the field of electronics particularly in radar, which was his favourite subject. His exceptional teaching ability made him well respected and liked by colleagues and students.

John and Eunice moved to Orkney a few years ago to live near their son Andrew and his family. Jean and I paid them a short visit last year and once again enjoyed John’s wonderful dry sense of humour.

John had donated his body to research so there was no funeral but a Thanksgiving Service was held at Gullane on Saturday 2 July. My wife Jean and I were amongst the large gathering that included several former students and colleagues.

Our sincere sympathy is extended to Eunice, son Andrew, daughter Joy, and their families at this sad time


Published in the Blackpool Evening Gazette on 23 November 2011

SCHOLES Roger (Capt) Retired Principal of Fleetwood Nautical College On November 15th 2011 aged 86 years, Roger passed away. Devoted and dearly loved husband of Kathleen and loving father of David, Janet, Peter and Anne. His funeral service and cremation will take place on Tuesday November 29th 2011 at 12:30pm at Carleton Crematorium (black not necessary). Family flowers only please , donations in lieu if so desired to R.N.L.I. (Fleetwood branch) c/o T.H. Fenton, 27/28 Rossall Road, Cleveleys FY5 1DX Tel. 01253 852383

++++++++++ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

RHIMES Thomas (Richard)
Passed away suddenly on October 30th, 2011 in Blackpool Victoria Hospital aged 74 years. Richard a dearly loved father of Helen, Michelle, Karen and the late Stephen, father in law of Steven and a loving grandad to Billy, Harry and Georgie also a treasured brother to Robert and brother in law of Sue and a dear uncle to Katie, Tom and Lucie.
Richard will be sadly missed by all family and friends. He was pre-deceased by his wife Kath in February 2010.
For all enquiries and funeral details Tel 01253 772111
co-operative funeralcare. (from the Fleetwood Weekly News)


John Finch : Obituary (affectionately known as "knocker")

Of your charity pray for the repose of the soul of John, aged 75 years, who fortified by the Rites of Holy Mother Church passed away peacefully at home in the presence of his loving family on June 16th 2011. Beloved husband of Mary, dearly loved dad of Andrew, Elizabeth, Marie and Martin, much loved brother of Jim, dear brother in law of Sheila, loving grandad to his seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren. R.I.P.
Requiem Mass to be held at St John the Evangelist Catholic Church on Friday June 24th at 12 noon, followed by burial in the churchyard. Flowers may be sent or donations if so desired to "Apostleship of the Sea". All enquiries and donations please to C.T. Hull Funeral Services, 2 Birchway, Poulton le Fylde Tel 899845Published in the Blackpool Evening Gazette on 20th June 2011 (Distributed in Blackpool)


Peter Paul Cuffe : Obituary 

Peter worked as a valued Support Technician to the Marine Radar Courses at FNC and was noted for being a highly professional and cheerful member of staff in the 1980s and 1990s. (by Bob White, Senior Lecturer).

We are sad to announce the death of Peter in hospital and of Fleetwood and fortified by the rites of Holy Mother Church. The beloved and loving husband of Margaret, loving father of Philiomena, John, Tom, Peter, Bernadette and the late Martha, devoted grandad to all his grandchildren.
He will be sadly missed by all his family and friends.
Requiem Mass took place at St Wulstans R.C. Church, Fleetwood on Monday February 8, 2010 followed by burial at Fleetwood Cemetery.
Family flowers only please. Donations if so desired to the R.N.L.I Fleetwood Branch c/o the funeral directors. All enquiries please to J.T Byrne, 1 Beach Road, Fleetwood Tel 776281. From Fleetwood Weekly News.


(Frank) Martland : Obituary

MARTLAND (Frank) Passed away peacefully in Blackpool Victoria Hos-pital after a short illness on Sunday April 25, 2010 aged 80 years. Beloved husband of the late Marjorie, much loved dad of David, Philip and Lindsey, a dearly loved grandad, brother, father in law. Brethren of Broadwater Lodge...

Published in the Blackpool Evening Gazette on 29th April 2010 (Distributed in Blackpool)


Lawrence Rivers-Bland : Obituary

RIVERS-BLAND (Lawrence) Suddenly in hospital on November 7, 2009. Lawrence, aged 82 years. The dearly loved husband of Jennifer, loving father of Adrian, Simon and Mark and grandfather to Charles-Lawrence Funeral service and burial to be held at Elswick Memorial United Reformed Church on Monday...

Published in the Blackpool Evening Gazette on 13th November 2009 (Distributed in Blackpool)


William Carruthers : Obituary

CARRUTHERS William (Bill) Former Principal of the Fleetwood Nautical College. Peacefully at St Alban's Nursing Home, Knott End on Monday February 16, 2009, aged 94 years. Husband of the late Barbara, father of Judith and Anne, grandfather of Sarah. R.I.P. Funeral service to take place at St...

Published in the Blackpool Evening Gazette on 18th February 2009 (Distributed in Blackpool)


Don Bee : Obituary

BEE On November 14, 2008 Don. Dearly loved husband of Pat, loving father of Simon and Andy, dear father in law of Penny, much loved grandad to Emily and Tom, brother of David and Doug, nephew of Dorothy and Chris. Service and cremation at Carleton Crematorium on Monday November 24, 2008 at 2pm....

Published in the Blackpool Evening Gazette on 20th November 2008 (Distributed in Blackpool).


David Larter: Obituary David passed away sometime around 1995 and was a much liked and respected Senior Lecturer in the 1970s and 1980s. (by Bob White, Senior Lecturer).

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