Tributes to Stamford and District Lions member Tom Riley who set up the talking newspaper to enable visually impaired people to access the Rutland & Stamford Mercury
Tributes have been paid to a dedicated Lion who was a gentle, family man.
Tom Riley lost a two-year battle with kidney cancer on April 25, at home in Stamford with his wife of 45 years Maureen by his side. He was 70 years old.
A member of Stamford and District Lions for 33 years, Tom was responsible for the talking newspaper, which enables visually impaired people to be able to access the Mercury.
Even when he didn’t assist the team of volunteer readers in recording articles from the Mercury, first to casettes and then to memory sticks, he helped to distribute it 51 weeks a year until ill health prevented him from doing so.
He was also a loving husband to Maureen, as well as stepfather to four children, grandfather of seven and, more recently, great grandfather of two.
Paying tribute, his family remembered him as someone who took an interest and a great deal of pleasure in all of their achievements, no matter how small, “always there with advice and support”.
His family also described him as a “gentle man” who would help anyone out if they needed it.
Born and bred in Stamford, Tom took a big interest in the history of the town that his family were already well known in when he was born - his grandfather and father ran a drapers’ shop in Maiden Lane.
It was this interest in Stamford that led Tom to join the Lions in 1988.
President of the Lions, Gill Clarke, said Tom was always involved in the organisation and running of Lions events, especially the family fun day at Stamford Festival, the Christmas tree festival, which he saved, and Rock on the Rec. Plans are in place to bring back Rock on the Rec next year, which will be held in his memory.
Gill added: “The Lion’s motto is ‘we serve’ which was what Tom did. He will be greatly missed, as a Lion and a true friend.”
In February last year, Tom even received the Melvin Jones Fellowship Award, the highest form of recognition in Lions Clubs International, acknowledging his exemplary service to the club. He continued as treasurer up until January this year.
Outside the Lions, Tom was also well known locally for running his business Fivex Ltd, firstly in New Street and then Hallidays Yard, where his skills were in great demand, especially within the motorsport and locomotive industries.
His other interests included politics, leading to sometimes heated debates, and when Maureen was mayor of Stamford in 1991 Tom was particularly proud to be her consort.
Other hobbies included DIY, sudoko, reading and listening to varying styles of music.
Although reluctant at first, he also enjoyed holidays and a trip to India was a particular highlight for both Tom and Maureen. The couple had hoped to return there.
His funeral was held last month at Peterborough Crematorium.