Tribute to a friend

May 18 | 2015

Edward Kenneth Philp (Ted) died peacefully at home on 17 March, 2015 just a few weeks after his wife, Doreen, had also passed away. Ted was 89 years old. He and Doreen had been married for over 61 years.

For almost 60 years Ted had been an important part of the UK and international moving industry.  His legacy has already outlived him and will continue to be felt strongly throughout the industry for many years to come. 

Like many of his generation, Ted had a humble upbringing after his father died young, from the effects of his time serving in the trenches in France, leaving his mother destitute with Ted and his elder brother Roy to bring up. Maybe it was this experience that helped Ted maintain a pragmatic outlook on business, despite his later success with Pickfords, that meant the needs of smaller companies were never far from his mind.

It was the principal of Ted’s technical college in Tunbridge Wells who introduced him to Mr Webb, from Pickfords in the High Street. The interview, apparently, was conducted one Friday afternoon in a Morris Eight car as Mr Webb did his calls for the day.  Ted started work with Pickfords the following Monday. It was soon after that Ted met Doreen, who was the sister of his lifelong friend, Alan. The couple were married in 1953. 

Ted volunteered as a navigator in the RAF during the War attaining the rank of sergeant.  He was demobbed in 1948 and returned to Pickfords where he worked at various depots including Hastings, Redhill, Bradford, Windermere, Bolton and Brighton before becoming the manager of the Tottenham branch in 1967.   

Michael Gerson, who read a eulogy to Ted at his funeral, said that Ted always had a keen eye for business.  When in Brighton, he made maximum use of his vehicles by using them for removals during the day and for theatrical moves at night.  His branch far outstripped target profits and nobody at Pickfords quite knew how he was achieving it.

In his eulogy Michael explained the difficult political situation between Pickfords and the rest of the industry at that time that meant Ted had to develop his talents somewhat isolated from the other principal players in the business. After his move to Tottenham, Ted was entrusted with the international side of Pickford’s business. This gave him the opportunity of contributing more than anyone else to the status and profitability of the company, while the small number of other movers who specialised in overseas moving got to know Ted and benefited from the wisdom that he shared willingly. 

Ted’s generosity to the rest of the industry played a major role in overcoming the latent hostility towards Pickfords at that time.  Michael said that he found himself in agreement with Ted on many issues and worked closely with him negotiating with government bodies such as Customs & Excise, Inland Clearance Depots, The Office of Fair Trading, Price Control Commission, etc. Through this time Ted’s impartiality, attention to detail and persistence were recognised by all who worked with him. 

It was in the early 1980s that disaster struck the international moving industry when two companies, QRS and Severn Seas, apparently purposely defrauded members of the public by taking money in advance with little intention of completing the shipment.  Questions were asked in the House of Commons and the respectable side of the industry set about making sure this would not happen again.  Ted, Michael and others were the founding fathers of the BAR Overseas advance payment guarantee, now administered by IMMI, that came to the rescue and still today provides peace of mind for thousands of private shippers. 

Ted also served the industry as BAR president in 1986, was a key member of the Overseas Group Council for many years and served extensively on the freight negotiation committee being instrumental in the formation of the Movers Trading Club (MTC). After leaving Pickfords he worked with a number of companies, most significantly, with Britannia.  He also remained a director of IMMI, regularly visiting the company’s offices in Guernsey and providing comprehensive reports to the BAR Overseas Group. He finally retired in 2000 at the age of 74.

In every organisation there are a handful of people who keep everything going.  Ted was one of those people in the UK international moving industry and everyone who makes their living from it today owes him a debt of gratitude.

His funeral on Thursday 9 April was a quiet affair with a handful of his closest colleagues from the moving industry joining friends and family to pay their respects to this industry statesman. Ted was diligent, fastidious and had an encyclopedic knowledge which he was happy to share for the benefit of all who had the wisdom to listen. He was a quiet man, hardly ever raising his voice or showing anger. He was kind, particularly to those who were inexperienced and needed guidance.  But he didn’t suffer fools at all. Those who worked with him knew perfectly well when Ted was not pleased: just a glance was enough to register his displeasure and make others think again.

Ted Philp was a gentleman and with his passing the moving industry worldwide has lost a friend.  Nobody should be in doubt at his contribution or forget the dedication he showed over so many years, largely for the benefit of others.  May he and Doreen rest peacefully.

Photos: Top - Ted in his DJ; Ted with his family.

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