Tom Hewitt MW
Became an MW 1964, died 2003
Tom Hewitt was a great character of the old school. He was unusual, in the early days of the Institute, in being the product of the Wine and Spirit department of a Northern brewery company. He was also unusual for a Master of Wine in that he spent most of his career as Managing director of J.E.Mather, makers of British wine in Leeds. This product was seen as suspect by the purists because it was made from grape juice concentrate instead of the ”juice of fresh grapes”. But, as Tom would say, British wine was well made because they had so much more practice than normal wine growers! After all, Mather fermented all the year round in their stainless steel tanks in Upper Worsley whereas traditional wineries only operated once each year, in the autumn! Mather also had the distinction of having at one time three Ms W on their board – a record?
My fondest memory of Tom was on an MW trip to the Sherry district. On arrival at the airport in Seville, Tom and another member of the party found that their luggage had not arrived. They waited for the next flight in, picked up their bags and came on in a hire car to Jerez. Later the same trip, Tom’s turn to make the ubiquitous ”thank you” speech was approaching. I was sharing a room with him and became slightly concerned that he was having nerves about the prospect. He was not a great extrovert and could even seem rather reserved on occasions so I began to wonder what he would produce. I need not have worried. He started with an account of what had happened at the airport, mumbling a bit, and then mentioned the car journey to Jerez, driven by the other MW without luggage saying “I can thoroughly recommend his driving”, pause, “as a laxative”, and then went on to give a hilariously funny speech. Later we found out that he was in fact an accomplished public speaker preparing carefully but with the timing of a comedian
– tribute by Dick Bowes MW
Tom began his career with Russells Brewery in Malton, North Yorkshire and then spent time with John Smith’s brewery in Tadcaster before moving on to J E Mather.
– tribute by Vincent Larvan MW
Had a wicked wit and a very dry delivery, and was one of the funniest speakers I have come across. He and Pat Lloyd on separate occasions gave particularly memorable speeches on the South Africa trip in the 1970’s.
– tribute by Bill Gunn MW