Russell 'Taff' Thomas
It is hard to realise that Russ Thomas has left this world for he was a man with an indomitable spirit that carried him forward throughout his long life. I first served with him in the 1950s when we were both members of the Plymouth Group Band in Stonehouse Barracks. Full of energy Russ quickly became very popular. He was a fine violinist and tenor saxophone player. I remember that his father, recognising his instrumental ability bought and presented him with a very special violin. In those far off days our service stringed instruments were generally of a very poor standard so this was manna from heaven for Russ. His pride in ownership of the instrument lasted about a fortnight after which he sold it in order to buy a motor bike! His interest in two wheeled travel lasted all of his life and in recent years he and his partner, Lynne, owned and rode identical 'his & hers' models of the same high class machine. On leaving the Service Russ set up and ran his own Security Company in the West Country but always his main interest was his music. His dance band was hugely popular through many decades and formed the basis of highly successful evenings of entertainment in the Plymouth and surrounding area. As a young man he was adventurous, somewhat wild, huge fun and a Band Service character in all respects. He was a member of a pools syndicate in the Plymouth Band that won handsomely when he was only in his early twenties. Violins, motorbikes? He lived life to the full then and never changed his ways. Stricken with severe arthritis over recent years he suffered badly but a final stroke proved fatal. Farewell Russ, friend and colleague in music. We will all miss your impish grin, good humour, musicianship and sheer presence for which we have been grateful over so very many years.
Our thanks to Bill Hartland for the funeral program