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. 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.
Here is a brief story of “Tommy & Bessie Mayhook” God bless them both.
The Thomas & Elizabeth Mayhook charity is named after my late grandparents.
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. 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)