Egbert ‘Eggie’ Tingling


William Robinson Clarke

‘Family man who always strived for a better life’

1926 - 2005

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It was an argument with his father that prompted teenager Egbert ‘Eggie’ Tingling to enlist as an RAF volunteer from Jamaica, fulfilling his schoolboy dreams of seeing more of the world.

At the end of the war, demobilised troops were offered the opportunity to learn a profession. Born in Grange Hill, Westmoreland, on June 2, 1926, Eggie chose radio engineering. After returning to England from Kingston on the Empire Windrush, he found a broadcasting job in Barry, South Wales.

To relax, he would hang out at the Colonial Club, a popular meeting place for Black ex-servicemen, and it was there that he met Icilda ‘Cilda’ Byfield. Cilda was a single mum – not uncommon after the war – who worked behind the bar to make ends meet. After a whirlwind romance, the couple tied the knot just before Christmas 1948. They would go on to raise ten children together.

The next eight years were challenging for the couple. Eggie’s broadcasting job came to an end and he declined the offer of a transfer because it would mean having to leave his growing family behind. In the end, he took work at the docks hauling sacks of flour.

Yearning for a better life, he decided to return to his homeland in June 1957 with Cilda and their five children. However, he was unable to find a well-paying job and reluctantly had to bring his family back to England in October of that year, settling in London.

Cilda was pregnant with their sixth child. Homesick for Wales, she and the children went back to Barry to live with her sister until Eggie was able to secure their own place. In 1958, the family returned to London and for the next 12 years, Eggie progressed through a series of professional positions in the electrical and chemical fields.

In the late 1960s, newly independent Jamaica seemed to be calling Eggie again. Electrical manufacturer Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) was looking for a works manager for its Jamaican operations and Eggie successfully applied for the job. In 1970, he and Cilda relocated to Jamaica, taking 6 of their 10 children. The two eldest daughters had married and the two older sons stayed behind with relatives to finish their education.

Twelve months later, Eggie was promoted to general manager. Within two years, however, political unrest in Jamaica led the family to move to Canada and Eggie became FPE’s employee and industrial relations manager.

Cilda died in Ontario on February 8, 1989. She and Eggie had been married for just over 40 years. After a brief illness, Eggie passed away 16 years later, on August 8, 2005, aged 79.

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