Surprise! Sidmouth seafront stalwart’s farewell bash.

Tom has been in the deckchair business for a quarter of a century

A POPULAR stalwart of Sidmouth seafront for more than three decades was left gob-smacked when he got a shock retirement gift – a surprise send-off from scores of friends.

Tom Griffiths said he was moved by an “awesome” treat his wife Laura had kept top-secret from him until Sunday morning.

She’d assembled more than 50 friends, former employees and customers of Tom’s from over the years on the Esplanade and convinced her husband to take a seafront stroll. Tom, 63, has decided to retire from the deckchair and beach hut franchise he’s run at the beach for a quarter of a century.

He’s been in business on Sidmouth seafront since 1980 and began his deckchair concession in 1986.

“I knew absolutely nothing about it and was well and truly caught out,” Tom said of his surprise on Sunday. “It was a shock to the system. I was gob-smacked at the people who’d turned up. They were there from all walks of life which I think was so good. It was a moving moment.

“I was due to go to a meeting at the lifeboat station at 11am and was getting quite irate with my wife because I was running late and she wouldn’t drive me.

Most Read

“As I walked across the seafront I saw some of my deckchairs and started recognising faces and it all happened from there.

“People from my beach huts, deckchair season ticket holders, and friends were there.

“Quite a few who’d worked for me over the years turned up. One of my old deckchair lads is now a consultant at Derriford Hospital.”

Friends came from as far afield as London and Berkshire to help mark the occasion.

Roger Holt, who had a 20 year career in the record industry, came from the capital and bought a specially made cake with him.

“I’ve know Griffo for so many years – he’s such a lovely guy. It was really good to see everyone,” said Roger.

Jayne Eley also made a special cake for her friend.

Tom thanked owners the Royal York and Faulkner Hotel and its staff for their “brilliant” help with the bash.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter