18 Jan 2015

Reginald Ernest Swinfield














On 11th January 2015, family and friends gathered in the West Abbey Care Centre in Yeovil, Somerset, to celebrate the life and 90th birthday of Reg Swinfield, my father. 

Born at Bagshot, Surrey, he was the only child of Arthur Swinfield (1883-1956) and Edith Elizabeth nee Worsfold (1884-1976), born 11 years after their marriage. In his early years, he suffered from ill health having measles, whooping cough and double pneumonia in quick succession, leaving him needing to be in a pushchair until he was five years old! His father was then working as a butler at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst.

In April 1930, Reg started his education at Yorktown School. His strength gradually improved and at age of eight, he joined the Frimley and Camberley Cadet Corps and eventually was promoted to be commander of Yorktown Platoon. He won several medals for both physical and athletic achievements. A very keen sportsman throughout his life, he played football and cricket for his junior school and in 1938 was selected to play football for Farnham Schools when they won the Wood Cup, the Surrey Schools Competition for under 12s.

Having not been successful in the examination at 11 to attend the local grammar school, he passed the 13+ examination to attend Guildford Junior Technical School from 1938 to 1940. In his first term, he played football for Guildford Schools who won the Hood Shield for all Surrey Schools in March 1939.
Leaving school in May 1940, he became an engineering apprentice at the world-renowned Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough, Hampshire, where he trained until 1946, obtaining his Ordinary and Higher National Certificates. At the age of 17, in Jan 1942, he joined the Home Guard during WWII and served alongside his father until it was disbanded in 1944.
In August 1946, Reg joined Fairey Aviation Company at Hayes in Middlesex as a junior stressman, commuting four hours by train and bus each day, for the princely weekly wage of £5-19-6d. He worked on the Firefly Mk5 for six months and was then transferred to the team involved in the design of the new Gannet anti-submarine aircraft. 
During the football season 1947/8, he captained the Camberley Reserves when they won the Surrey Senior Reserve Section Challenge Cup.
On New Years Eve 1947, at a dance in Camberley, he met Evelyn May Bird (1924-2008). They became engaged on Evelyn’s 24th birthday and were married in St Peter’s Church, Frimley, Surrey, on 16th July 1949. Geoffrey Mark, their only child, was born on 2nd October 1951.
In his lifelong career, he was promoted to Assistant Chief Stressman and was made a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and a Chartered Engineer. When Fairey Aviation was taken over by Westland Helicopters in 1960, the Rotodyne project was cancelled and he was transferred to the Scout and Wasp helicopters. By 1966, he was promoted to Deputy Chief Structural Engineer and spent some time at Cowes on the Isle of Wight developing the SRN4 hovercraft and later the Lynx helicopter.
From 1950 to 1972, he was a stalwart all-rounder for Bagshot Cricket Club, captaining the First XI for many seasons, scoring thousands of runs and taking well over 1000 wickets. Also a keen golfer, at one time playing to a handicap of 14, he was still playing in his early 80s.
Evelyn and Reg moved to Sherborne in Dorset in August 1972 with the closure of the Hayes factory by Westland and its transfer to Yeovil. Appointed its Chief Structural Designer and later the Chief Structural Engineer, he finally retired in May 1986 after 26 years with that company. In early 1987, they embarked on an eight-week round-the-world tour with their friends, David and Madge Hollely, visiting Honolulu, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, Thailand and Hong Kong.
They have three grandchildren, Thomas William born in 1984, Benjamin Alan 1985 and Samuel John in 1988. His great-granddaughter, Lexia Lou, was born in September 2013.

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