Terence, who likes to go by his nickname, Taffy, was born in Wales and lived in the village of Ynysynwl. Nicknames have always been a running theme in Taffy’s family, with his mother Florence going by the name Lillian and his father William being called Chaggy. Taffy was the youngest of three children, growing up with his brother, Dennis and Sister, Gwyn.
Comedian, actor and singer Sir Harry Secombe lived in a nearby village and Tom Jones was also not too far away from Ynysynwl.
Taffy began working in a Bakery at the at the age of 14, delivering fresh bread and cakes to locals by horse and cart. When he turned 15 he started working in the coal mines. Taffy recalls memories of how hard the work was; how his hands were thick with calluses and if he put the tip of a cigarette on the palm of his hand he could not feel it burning. The hard work was worth the salary though, Taffy recalls his wage of £2 a week going a long way as this was a very good salary at the time.
Taffy tells stories of his work in the mine and how dangerous of a place it was. He recalls many accidents experienced by himself and his colleagues, the first of which happened when he was just 17 years old. Taffy was operating an eighteen foot drill while stood eight feet from the ground, he would guide the drill which was mounted over his shoulder, and another worker would push on it. There was a problem with the drill and his work mate shouted for him to jump but Taffy said he was too high up; the drill went across his face and he lost two of his ribs.
In another incident the coal miners had to squeeze through a small hole in a conveyor-belt as the roof of the cave was collapsing. Thankfully, everybody managed to get out before the roof came down.
Another accident he remembers well is being stuck in a lift shaft, where his colleagues had to rescue him by cranking the lift to safety by hand. Taffy remembers how grateful he felt and the relief on the men’s faces when he got to the top safely.
Taffy worked in the mines until the age of 21 and regularly went for a drink on a Friday night with five of his friends. In the early hours of the morning, they decided to join the forces. They applied for The Merchant Navy, but soon found out that they would be required to sign up for a minimum of 24 years’ service; they did not want to sign up for that length of time. The group then decided to join the Air Force and three of them, including Taffy, passed the medical exam. On the very next Monday, Taffy was posted to Gloucester.
When Taffy was stationed at Waterbeach Airfield he felt honoured to see the Queen and Prince Philip during one of their visits. Waterbeach Airfield was one of the RAF’s main bases. Built in 1940s on the northern edge of Waterbeach village, the base was operated under the control of RAF Bomber Command. The original control tower and many RAF buildings, including several hangars, are still present to this day.
Taffy met a woman named Shirley at the Victoria Cinema in Cambridgeshire and they became very close and started courting. They were married in Cambridgeshire Registry Office. His Best Man at the wedding was Roy Hudd (comedian) as they had been great friends during their time at Waterbeach.
When Taffy left the RAF they moved back to Wales together where they had their first child, Diane. After a number of happy years in Wales years they applied for a house in Cambridgeshire and moved back to the area where they had their son, Michael.
When Taffy’s brother-in-law passed away, he returned to Wales to support his sister. Unfortunately, his time away was difficult for his family and he and Shirley separated.
Taffy smiles as he recalls his story, sharing his motto of “work hard so that you can enjoy your life”. This rings true as Taffy speaks of his history as he has worked many hard and physically demanding jobs, but has always remained happy and positive.
Taffy went on to work many interesting and different jobs throughout his life, for a number of years he would deliver and carry coal bags that weighed 100kg over his shoulder, walking up steps and tipping the coal into bunkers. He also worked as a bar attendant in Cambridge and on a building site. Taffy was also fond of his job as a dustman, where he would help to load the dustcart. He told us how it was very difficult work as the bins were made of tin instead of plastic so were much heavier than they are today. Taffy and his team would have to lift each bin over their shoulders to empty them into the bin carts.
When Taffy retired, he enjoyed spending many hours in his garden tending to his fruits and vegetables, growing strawberries, potatoes, runner beans, carrots and much more. To pass the time, Taffy would also mend watches; a self-taught talent which he developed through his interest in how they work.
Taffy now lives at St George’s Court Care Home in Cambridge and enjoys watching his favourite TV shows including Antiques Roadshow, Dickinson’s Real Deal and war films. Each day he enjoys speaking with the team about each programme he has seen in the TV Times and what he plans to watch. Taffy is also very interested in science fiction and enjoys reading books about UFOs and alien encounters!
Taffy thanks the team at St Georges and regularly tells them how happy he is, especially when sitting in his chair looking out the window . The care home overlooks a beautiful park and Taffy enjoys watching the people going by and the children laughing and smiling.