Thomas Henry Wilfred Pitman was born in Aberdare 17th May 1936.
Named Thomas after his Father and Henry after his Grandfather Wilfred known as Wilf to his friends begun his life at Tick Tock Ystalyfera where he met his future wife Gwenllian Ray Williams a farmers daughter from Abercrave. National service took Wilf with the RAF looking after sick and injured personnel but didn’t serve the full term as his mother was taken ill, Wilf returned home and cared for his mother as he continued to work at Morriston hospital and later he married aged 19 to Ray in 1956. Ray and Wilf had a little girl Carol who sadly passed away only a few hours old of asphyxia, they never had any more children after this tragic event.
Wilf moved from the valleys to join Loughor Mines Rescue service as well as St Johns order and sadly on the 21st October 1966 116 children and 28 adults perished as coal waste spewed into the village of Aberfan engulfing the school which was full of children at that time, local miners came from work as well as those who were off shift to help pull bodies from the carnage some of them pulled their own children out he washed the children ready to be identified by parents.
Greatly affected by the trauma at Aberfan Wilf and Ray moved to Loughor in Swansea, Wilf and Ray started working at 3M’s Wilf on Security and Ray on shop floor. Wilf after attending an event on the Estuary heard about a 7 year old boy losing his life to the treacherous tides of Loughor and offered to start up a Rescue Boat Service which was supported by his colleagues at St John’s Rescue Boat at Ferryside who supplied Loughor with a small 2.5 metre inflatable boat with 25 hp engine which had it’s first call out on 4th May 1969 with Wilf as it’s Coxswain. Wilf was Superintendent of Loughor Division of St John then promoted to County Staff Officer (CSO) in 1973 and the moved up a grade in 1977.
Appointed to Assistant Commissioner in January 1980 and Deputy Commissioner on 24th June 1981. Wilf was awarded the Commander of the Order of St John in 1983 and continued to work at 3M’s until 1989 where he took retirement after 20 years service. Wilf then took on a security job at the Evening Post Cambrian place until he finished after an accident at work where a door fell on him. Wilf still with St John’s Inshore Rescue continued until 1993 when Wilf stood down from service to care for his wife Ray who was in ill health.
St Johns Rescue Boat then changed it’s name to Loughor Inshore Rescue after Crew were paying for fuel for call outs from their own pockets and decided to go alone and get Charity status away from St John and start afresh.
They sold their Bungalow in Loughor and lived in a caravan before moving to Pontarddulais and later settling down eventually in Einon Court Gorseinon surrounded by some wonderful friends in the Gwalia Complex.
Wilf as you might had guessed returned regularly to visit the Crew at the Lifeboat he founded. Sadly in 2016 Wilf visited the station and told Crew of his illness and he said he would fight the Cancer in the throat which he did and later in 2017 he picked up a infection in the lungs and returned to Morriston Hospital to have fluid drainedwilf struck up a good relationship with Mark Joseph physio and also made the news with Get Up & Go encouraging patients to get out of bed and keep active and returned home to Ray, getting regular check ups with his doctor’s at Tyr Felin which he did until November 2017 when he was taken ill and admitted to Singleton Hospital where he spent the last days of his life until 15th December 2017 where sadly Wilf passed on due to Pneumonia and Lymphoid Cancer.