FARMERS’ RETAILER WAS WELL-SUITED TO DOG TRIALS
Harry Knight (Mick) Thomson 1913-2006
“Menswear retailer Mick Thomson, who died last month at the age of 92, was almost the farmer of the Hastings CBD.
At least that was the way it may have seemed to some who observed the Heretaunga Street mainstay’s rapport with a broad farming customer base which stretched throughout the North Island.
He wasn’t however, from a farm. Born in Hastings on October 7, 1913, the youngest of nine children of shoe proprietor Harry and wife Frances, he grew up mainly at the family’s bach at Haumoana Beach.
With the rest of the children he would walk every day to and from Haumoana school, until a bus service became available.
He left school at the age of 15 to work at Blackmore’s in Heretaunga Street, eventually buying a motorbike to get to work. He was with the firm during the 1931 earthquake. The premises were not badly damaged and he was with the firm more than 29 years before opening Thomson’s suits in a small ahop[shop] in the Wade Building in 1957. Over the years, the shop expanded into the space which had been occupied by the other shops in the building.
Despite it’s name suggesting a narrow and specialized focus, the firm’s trade extended across the menswear range, and Mr Thomson and his staff’s rapport was built around the busy days of the stock sales at Stortford Lodge about a kilometer away.
The many friendships he made in the rural fraternity were behind his eventual significant involvement in officiating at dog trials, usually as a timekeeper. He would also enlist the family, and son Michael recalls his time as a liberator, when he was 10 years old. Mick Thomson was a regular at such events as the Olrig and Okawa trials, and at the Hawkes Bay A and P show, where he was instrumental in raising the profile of dog trailing by having the events at showtime moved from what is now known at Elwood Park to the main showgrounds complex.
He was also a regular at the Elsthorpe Sports, whre [where] he organized running races for the children, and their function afterwards. He had been a keen rugby player, a flanker with the Hastings High School Old Boys, and it was a rugby dance that he met Betty Prebble, his futre [future] wife. They chose not to marry before the war, during which he served with the 19th Battalion tank division in the desert in Egypt [Egypt], but married soon after his return home in 1945.
Betty worked with him in the business, in which he maintained a full role till suffering a fractured pelvis and other injuries in a car crash in 1975. After a lengthy stay in hospital, he eventually returned to work, maintaining at least a part-time routine until the age of 75.
He had been a keen golfer, a personal highlight being his win with friend Peter Gifford in the Hastings Golf Club JW Jones fourball championship in 1964. He played bowls, and was a life member of the Kia Toa club, and was president of the Count Club in 1964, and, having joined 10 years earlier, was eventually recognised for his 50 year’s membership.
He also loved fly-fishing and pig hunting.
While a talented life and soul of the party, he did not use those skills in any formal theatrical of performing capacity, although, somehow, he did find his way onto stage alongside Howard Morrison in Auckland one night.
The menswear firm continued with Michael Thomson and John Darrow still going strong after 40 years each, and Bruce Giorgi after 19 years. Mike’s wife Pam and son Angus also worked for the firm, as does daughter Liz part-time.
Mick Thomson died at Reeve House on February [February] 2 and his funeral was held at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Hastings, on Feb 7. He is survived by wife Betty, daughter Judith, son Mike, five grandchildren and six greatgrandchildren.”