Welcome to the Thomas & Elizabeth Mayhook Charity website, dedicated to the Preservation, Upkeep & Maintenance of the historic St David’s Cemetery Carmarthen
The Thomas & Elizabeth Mayhook Charity (registered charity number 1164725) was formed in December 2015 for the “Preservation, Upkeep, & Maintenance of the historic St David’s Cemetery Carmarthen” The charity has six Trustees lead by the Chairman Mr Richard Goodridge MBE who named the charity after his grandparents (Tommy and Bessie) who are buried there. The Patron of the charity is the Right Reverend Joanna Penberthy – Bishop of St David’s. To date the charity has received support from the Pilgrim Trust, the Prince of Wales’ Charitable Foundation & the Garfield Weston Foundation & the Golden Bottle Trust. Financial support has also been gratefully received from the local Freemasons “Mackworth Club” and Professor Medwin Hughes, Vice Chancellor of Trinity St David’s University, which has close links with the cemetery. The charity also continues to source further funding from other grant making bodies to help further it’s restoration programme and receives regular donations from the “Friends of the Thomas & Elizabeth Mayhook Charity”, who are individuals with an interest in local history and many of whom have relatives buried here in the cemetery. Memorial repair and restoration feature very highly in the work of the charity, and this information can be found in the drop down menu of the website. Also, numerous stories have been written about many of those interred here and these can be found in the “What’s in a Name” sub heading and scrolling down the list. Since the charity gained official status in December 2015 it has spent in excess of £33,000 in restoring the cemetery grounds, memorials and boundary wall.
The Thomas & Elizabeth Mayhook charity is named after my late grandparents. Here is a brief story of “Tommy & Bessie Mayhook” God bless them both.
I took the decision to name the charity after them as they are both buried in the newer section of St David’s Cemetery. Elizabeth or Bessie as she was affectionately known was born in the grand sounding name of Buckingham Place, a small side street off the notorious Mill Street Carmarthen, long since demolished. She was one of thirteen children and one of twins. Her brother William was the first born of the thirteen at 6am on 23rd September 1905 and seventeen hours later – the same day at 11pm Elizabeth Jane Thomas came into the world. Her mother must have been an extremely tough lady!
Tommy on the other hand was born in Lambeth on Bankside on the 4th June 1905 and was one of five brothers. His father James originally worked as a porter carrying wood from the ships docking in the Thames and later worked at the Ritz Hotel also as a porter. Life in the East End of London was particularly difficult and indeed dangerous at the end of the 19th century, criminal gangs were everywhere, deprivation and poverty was prevalent but to their credit the Mayhook family were brought up with pride and dignity making their own way in the world as best as they could. Tommy’s mother Edith joined Buffalo Bill’s travelling circus as a bare back horse rider when it came to London in 1901. Indeed in a neighbouring street lived a family who would one day become quite famous – the Chaplain family and in particular Charles Chaplin. Tommy and Bessie were married on 21st December 1929 at Christchurch Carmarthen both aged 24. The ceremony took place at 08.30 am, because it is said that Tommy wanted an early honeymoon! At that time Tommy was living on a farm in Llandyfaelog called Morlais Mills and none of the occupants spoke English so he had to learn welsh and became a fluent welsh speaker with a cockney accent. Tommy was the grandson of Irish immigrants Patrick Fitzgerald and Margaret Braine who are thought to have come from County Kerry. Bessie’s father Thomas David Thomas, a Carmarthen man was a gifted sign writer and was the first to paint the then famous shop sign of “Morris Top Hat” in Lammas Street, a newer version of which still hangs there today. He is buried somewhere in the cemetery together with his two infant sons. They have no headstone or memorial . At the outbreak of the Second World War Tommy enlisted in the 15th Battalion Welch Regiment but for most of his life Tommy worked as a drayman for Whitbread’s brewery and on his retirement in 1969 was presented with a gold watch, which I still have in my possession today. Bessie, with poor eyesight was never able to have a full time job except as a mother of three daughters, Iris, Mary and Eileen all of whom went on to marry and have families of their own. In 1989 both Tommy and Bessie celebrated their Diamond Wedding Anniversary and sadly Bessie passed away in 1993 aged 87, and Tommy passed away on 5th June 1995 aged 90 and to this day I fondly remember them both with great affection.
My grandmother I remember was a very keen wrestling fan and every Saturday afternoon she would sit up close to the black and white television in the corner of their house at 67 Heol Rudd and watch Giant Haystacks and Big Daddy fight it out with some vocal assistance! May God bless them both.
I am sure that they would be justly proud of the fact that their names are now associated with such a restoration project. They may have gone many years ago, but I hope they will never be forgotten.
RICHARD J GOODRIDGE MBE. CHAIRMAN.
The Charity has six Trustees which meet at least four times a year.
- Richard Goodridge MBE. Chairman & Secretary.
- Robert Goodridge. Treasurer.
- Chris Dzioba
- Professor Tony Curtis
- Mrs Margaret Curtis
- Dr Huw Michael
Richard Goodridge. Founding Chairman of Trustees & Secretary.
Served as Sheriff of Carmarthen from 1991 to 1992 and Mayor and Admiral of the Port of Carmarthen from 1993-1994. County Councillor for Dyfed between 1989 and 1993. Appointed a Freeman of the City of London in 1994. Received the MBE for services to the Community in 1997 aged 36. In 2004 was decorated by His Majesty the King of Jordan for distinguished service to the Hashemite Kingdom. Served as Justice of the Peace for 17 years between 1999 and 2016. Retired from the Royal Mail in 2020 after 35 years. Hobbies include local history and research and charitable work in the community and wider afield.
Robert Goodridge – Treasurer & Trustee
Educated at Pentrepoeth primary school and Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Carmarthen. Most of his working career has been as a Civil Engineer in Dyfed then Carmarthenshire County Council. Retired in 2014 after 39 years service with the local authority. Married to Alison with three children. Hobbies include watching local sport; fishing, walking, gardening and listening to live music particularly jazz.
Chris Dzioba. Trustee
Prior to graduation in Civil Engineering from Portsmouth Polytechnic in the spring of 1976 Chris was educated at Stradey Secondary Modern and Carmarthen Technical College. Now retired having worked 40 years working in the public and private sectors in the UK and Middle East. He has been married for 45 years to his wife Angela and have been blessed with two daughters and a granddaughter .
Huw Michael. Trustee
After graduating in Chemical Engineering from Imperial College, University of London, Huw did his PhD at Swansea University and then had a 37-year career in the oil and gas industry, working in a number of countries including Belgium, USA, Nigeria, Indonesia as well as the UK. Huw and his wife decided to return to their native Wales after retiring in 2012. He is regularly called upon by BBC Cymru to offer opinions on energy sector news and events on radio and television. He is a trustee of Advocacy West Wales / Eiriolaeth Gorllewin Cymru , Secretary of Cor Meibion Caerfyrddin, a deacon and Financial Secretary of Eglwys Annibynnol y Priordy, and an active member of Carmarthen Golf Club.
Professor Tony Curtis & Margaret Curtis – Trustees
Tony and his wife Margaret have been charity trustees since the formation of the charity in 2015. Tony’s grandparents, James and Beatrice, are buried in the cemetery and he and Margaret have looked after the grave for decades.
Tony was born in Pentrefelin Street in Carmarthen in 1946. He is Emeritus Professor Poetry at the University of South Wales and continues to be very active as a publishing writer in retirement. His poem based on visiting the grave may be read in the “What’s in a Name” section of this website. Margaret retired from Cowbridge School after a distinguished career as an English teacher and head of year. Their children, Gareth and Bronwen, are supporters of the charity.