Ron Hyam – April 2012


hyam_ron_profile2_005.1.jpgThis time our reporter Pat Graysmark has chosen Ron Hyam

Well Well Well, Here we have a tourist of excellent breeding. Along with his charisma this self made man can only be Ron Hyam.

Ron was born in Norfolk in 1929, the son of a master baker.  He moved to Storrington in 1932 living opposite The Half Moon Pub. Ron’s mum not liking the accommodation over the shop persuaded Ron’s father to move to St Lawrence Avenue, Worthing.

Ron’s schooling started at the Holy Trinity, Howard Street in Worthing.  Being a brainy sort Ron passed his ‘eleven plus’ therefore allowing him a place at Shoreham Grammar School.  Mathematics being his forte – algebra, logarithms, genomics – just part of his ability to cope with the more difficult aspect of mathematic.

World War II was in flow while Ron was at school and on one particular day the sirens sounded.  Unfortunately for Ron he was shoved down into the shelter and broke his leg in two places.  Fourteen at the time, he was taken to Southlands Hospital.


Leaving school at 15 and a half – not having a clue what to do with himself (while in school Ron belonged to Army Cadets and passed his Cert A and Cert B, this giving him entry to commissioned area of the services – Ron was having none of this – not interested) – knowing when he reached 18 National Service was waiting for him.

Ron being quite shrewd knew that coalmining was exempt as with some other jobs.  On the list was Merchant Seaman, “That will do me” thought Ron.  He got the forms and was accepted for an interview.  Ron can teach you how not to present yourself for an interview – travelling to Southampton at the age of 16 and a half he had to be there for 10.30.  After sitting waiting for 90 minutes he decided to light a cigarette just as the door opened and the Director of the college commented on Ron smoking.  Ron’s reply “what do you expect after an hour and a half sat here?”.  The Director would not interview him but luckily for Ron he allowed a colleague to do the job.  Ron’s marks again were good justifying a place within the college’s one year course – but with the Director always giving Ron a hard time.  Most of year was spent on a large ‘ketch’ (passing his exams as the second highest in the class).  Now ready to let himself loose on the world the Director was pushing for Ron to work for P&O or Cunard.  Not for Ron he had already delved through Merchant magazines finding out that wages twice that of P&O or Cunard.  Ron joined Esso Oil after passing his interview with flying colours.  Starting out working on 90,000 tonner’s his first tour of duty lasted 8 months running between Venezuela, New York and San Francisco.


Signing for Esso on a four year course Ron not wanting to be just a deck hand of a Seaman ship, even though he realised it was important to his learning, Ron started course to become a Deck Officer.  This well within his grasp, he made Second Officer.

Riding the waves tied Ron to ship ports and crew.  Love on the waves came along and Ron married Jean aged 26, they had 2 children – a boy and girl.  Jean travelled with Ron on many occasions.  Ron passed all his exams (Masters) and obtained status as First Officer.

Ron returned home to work on 16,000 tonne coastal oil tanker, running from Fawley to Dungeness and many other oil fired power stations around English Coast.


Having that natural charisma mentioned at the start enabled Ron to calm the waters with sometimes near mutinous crews.  Charisma and luck occasionally go hand in hand.  During this time Ron’s Father retired from Bakery and took up Greyhound breeding and racing with the stud right next door to Ryan Price’s Stables (Famous Horse Trainer from the past – Findon based).  His mutinous crew started to down tools after Ron informed them that HQ had decided there was no more overtime.  Telling the crew in the process of them painting the ship had its difficulties.  (Here comes the lucky phone call to Ron’s Father) -.Ron’s Father replied, Price has three horses running this weekend – all expected to win.  Ron told the unhappy crew and all laid their money down.  All three horses won, so the crew carried on painting the rest of ship! That’s luck!  He used this ploy on numerous occasions.

Out of the blue ‘head office’ sent Ron for training on super tanker and he was given the job as Master of the Hiburnem.  His final 10 years as a Master was on this ship of 250,000 tonnes carrying oil from the Far East to deep water moorings such as Rotterdam, Fawley and Hamburg.  There were two major incidents on this ship, one a fire in the engine room – the hydraulics over heated whilst the ship was discharging.  Thankfully the fire was contained and Ron is still here.  The other was when a Fawley pilot was told by Ron to not use starboard engines to dock and to get the tugs to do the job.  The pilot took no notice and destroyed the jetty they were trying to moor to.

Retirement was offered to Ron’s in his early 50s and such was the offer he saw this an excellent opportunity and went into retirement with that large grin of his.

Ron took an interest of an equine nature joining a racing club and being a friend (via his father) of the legendry England bowler John Scadgell he decided to take the sport up.

Ron did go to sea once more. His wife Jean had always wanted to cruise the Panama Canal so Ron splashed out on their Golden Anniversary and went first class and they loved every minute.

When this interview took place Ron revoked the academics applying to him – but after eight years of studying plus passing all exams and gaining a Master’s status – it really puts you up there Ron.


Thank you for this insight on a man who is happy not only in the company of people like myself but dignitaries also.