TBF Thompson dies

TBF Thompson has died at the age of 93. He was well known within the NI business community for running a very successful agricultural machinery and commercial vehicles business. He was also widely known and respected in religious circles for his very extensive and generous involvement in Christian charities. I well remember assorted trips to the TBF Thompson Ministries building in Garvagh. I never met the man but he does seem to have been spoken of highly by practically anyone who had any dealings with him.

I will reproduce Dr. Harry Allen’s tribute to him (from the Newsletter) below the fold:
“TBF was born in Garvagh in 1915 and spent his whole life in the village of which he was very proud. He was a successful businessman and contributed much to the community through his generous Christian spirit.

In recent years, having retired from business he concentrated his time and energy on the work of the trusts which he set up with his first wife Kathleen some 28 years ago and developed further into TBF Thompson Ministries.

Dr Thompson was a deeply committed Christian whose desire was to help others where possible and to share Christ’s love with all he met.

His passing has been met with sadness throughout the whole community.”

  • William

    Tommy Thompson was a tremendous businessman…whose word was his bond…..a credit to the town of Garvagh and the county of Londonderry and indeed a proud son of Northern Ireland.

    In failing health for many months, TBF has left a legacy behind him and much yet to come.

    One of the projects that will soon come to fruition and in which his Christian Foundation is involved is United Christian Broadcasting having a station broadcasting within Northern Ireland.

    Christians throughout the province look forward to this coming to pass and thanks to Tommy Thompson’s foundation and many others who have donated, the station will soon be broadcasting.

    Rest in Peace Tommy – One great man

  • Glencoppagagh

    “Christian charities”
    Spending money propagating your own religious beliefs does not constitute charity any more than does propagating your own political beliefs.
    That’s not to say, of course, that the man was not charitable in the accepted sense but no concrete examples have been cited here.

  • Jen Erik

    This is twenty years ago, so my memory may be rusty, but my brother did a gap year working in a S. African orphanage – and the organisation he was working for (which wasn’t a Christian group) required that each volunteer raise so much money towards the placement – I’m fairly sure that T.B.F. Thompson did make a donation.

    Small, but – if my memory isn’t playing tricks – concrete example.

  • Glencoppagagh

    I’ve just clicked your link to the company website.
    No doubt you’ll also have noted there what he wasn’t ( 24 in 1939) doing in WW2 and what he was doing.
    But sure he used the money to spread the Gospel, Praise the Lord.

  • The Raven

    “I never met the man but he does seem to have been spoken of highly by practically anyone who had any dealings with him.”


  • Ex Pat Pat

    Glencoppagagh, let me cite two examples of giving by TBF’s trust that are not propagation of religious views:

    1. Ireland’s first Nursing Research Centre


    2. Queen Margaret Univerity


    I am sure there are lots more besides – that’s what Google produced on a quick search.

    I am not a member of his tribe but I certainly don’t share your negative view of the work he is doing with his Christian ministry – it sounds like it was done with a genuinely charitable heart.

  • Ex Pat Pat

    The Raven,

    Yes, really. He was a very well known NI businessman and, yes, really, lots of people did think highly of him.

    Yes, he may have been a businessman, and, heck, a Proddy, religious type but quite a few people held him in high esteem. Imagine that.

  • Dave

    I’m sure he was a local hero to the 200 or so people who benefited by employment through his obvious entrepreneurial flair (many of them in the Republic of Ireland), irrespective of the worthy causes he donated to. Business people are the real heroes; and the more of them a society produces, the more prosperous it becomes. RIP.

  • Glencoppagagh

    His entrepreneurial flair might be obvious but it wasn’t deployed to any great economic advantage. So far as I can see he was essentially a distributor, a very specialised kind of motor dealer. Essential to the efficient functioning of the economy but not a driver of growth. He didn’t make anything or export anything.
    Compared to Sir Allan McClay, for example, he was an entrepreneur with a very small ‘e’.
    By the way I doubt if his family would appreciate your RIP, though I’m sure you meant well.

  • Dave

    Glen, my [i]requiescat in pace[/i] was offered to comply with polite etiquette rather than on the dubious premise that grieving relatives do not have better things to do than read obscure Blogs for mention of the dearly departed among anonymous monikers.

    And speaking of dubious premises, why do you assume that a man who created employment for 200+ people did not provide “any great economic advantage” to society? That is 200+ people who are not claiming unemployment support from the state. Do you think any job that is not created in a high-margin manufacturing export sector may be discarded as inconsequential? Strange mentality, since it is utterly irrelevant which sector the job itself – which does not create any wealth – is created in.

    In regard to exports, I dare say that his exports of heavy machinery to the Republic of Ireland (where he held a number of franchises) extracted many millions from that economy to the direct benefit of the British economy of Northern Ireland – and that he imported that heavy machinery into the UK at a considerable discounted to the price at which he exported it. Doubtless, that is tens of millions more that you have managed to add to the British economy by setting your old LPs on eBay.

    Isn’t it the case that you hold a petty grudge against this man based on your own neurotic intolerance of religious beliefs and that your pettiness is such that you, perversely, will not hear [i]a good word[/i] said against him? 😉

  • Pigeon Toes

    I am also aware of people that were “heavily encouraged” to participate in prayer meetings etc when they were employed at TBF…

  • Glencoppagagh

    I just saw a certain irony in your use of RIP in this case even if it is your habit.
    Meanwhile, on more serious matters. Yes, I’m sure he extracted a bit of value from selling machinery one to the RoI but the fundamental point is that the stuff he sold was made elsewhere which is where most of the value was created. The middleman performs an essential function and may make the process of matching buyers and sellers more efficient but that’s all he does.
    Put it another way, we wouldn’t have much of an economy if everyone just sold to each other things that were made elsewhere. Now if we all tried instead to manufacture things or services and sell them we’d be much better off.
    I have no neurotic intolerance of his relgious beliefs but I am very aware that among self-certified Christians, genuine charity, free of self-interest, is not commonplace.
    And, as I pointed out in post 4, when I perused Turgon’s links, I discovered less reason to admire this man.

  • darth rumsfeld

    TBF was a true gentleman, loved by his workforce, and revered in the local community. He was a philanthropist in ways too numerous to mention, locally and wider afield.

    I just don’t recognise the “heavy encouragement” pigeon toes refers to, and I doubt it happened, having some knowledge of the workplace. I can certainly accept he had strong views on the drink culture, and imposed them on his workforce- but only in the workplace. And why shouldn’t he?

    Thanks to Turgon for posting this
    Shame on Glencoppagh for his mean-spiritedness. You’ll never achieve a fraction of a percentage of the good TBF created…

  • Glencoppagagh

    Why don’t you have a look at Turgon’s links as well.

  • Glencoppagagh

    Darth, Dave, Turgon
    You’ve obviously all read this by now:
    “During World War II he and his friend R J Pattison Nutt leased several quarries from which they hauled stone to the airfields under construction at Nutt’s Corner and Millisle.”

    T(oo) B(usy to )F(ight)?