It is with tremendous sadness and regret that we convey the news that Save Britain’s Fish and FALs ex-chair Tom Hay from Peterhead died on the night of Sunday the 8th of March after a years fight with dementia
Tom was a lifelong fishermen. With a passion for the industry he belonged to and loved.
With a keen intellect and near photographic memory, Tom became one of the first industry figures to grasp the full magnitude of the consequences of the EUs fledgling Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) for the industry he held so dear.
This followed meetings when it was outlined by the fledgling Save Britain’s Fish campaign, led by John Ashworth and Austin Mitchel MP for Grimsby.
The foreboding realisation of what was in store for the industry, combined with his love and passion for it, saw Tom emerge as one of the leading lights in campaigning to see Britain’s fishing saved from the CFP, along with Britain being liberated from the EU.
Tom joined the fight of the Save Britain’s Fish campaign as it fought to highlight to the industry, public, MPs and government the dire consequences of remaining in the CFP. Working extensively with John Ashworth, as his right hand man, and alongside MPs Christopher Gill & Austin Mitchel to drive SBF’s cause.
With the pro-EU movement at its height during the 90s, and euroscepticism in its relative infancy among the majority, the truth being highlighted by SBF was often met with disbelief by many, who thought the premonitions of what the CFP meant would never come to pass. Conjoined with ridicule by a pro-EU establishment desperate to discredit and smother the true consequences of EU membership.
Regrettably, the division between those who could foresee the consequences of the CFP and those who couldn’t (or were pro-EU) saw a split emerge in the industry.
Tom was one of the industry leaders who, along with John Thompson and Roddy McColl among others, set up the Fishermen’s Association Ltd (FAL), so the industry could support the SBF campaign to leave the CFP. This when the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) declined to do so - taking the politicians line that it was better to remain and reform than leave.
Tom became a real stalwart of the eurosceptic movement as one of the small cadre of individuals who, against insurmountable odds of the entire pro-EU media and political establishment, led the battle and laid the foundations of what became the Brexit movement.
His passion and love for his industry, combined with his deep faith which burned at the injustice of what was being inflicted upon Britain’s fishing folk, also fired Tom’s wider patriotism, with the delivery of rousing speeches in the call for freedom, particularly at Conservative conference.
Without Tom, and his comrades in SBF and FAL, the true plight of the industry, what had caused it, and therefore the remedy, would never have been brought to the fore.
Their battle created a public conscience that the EU was ‘pillfering our fish’. A monumental and herculean achievement in campaigning and messaging before the advent of social media and any newspapers backing leaving the EU.
He (and his associates in arms) were an inspiration to many, particularly one young boy growing up in the midst of his industry suffering. Without Tom there would have been no FAL, without FAL no Fishing for Leave and no Thames flotilla that put fishing right at the top of the public and political map. Such is the way our deeds, and particularly Toms, echo down the ages.
A degree of justice was delivered by Tom living to see Britain officially leave the EU. One can only hope, that the collective efforts of putting fishing on the map, which Tom was foremost amongst inspiring, can finally see the industry he fought so hard and courageously for saved and revived.
All the best wishes to those he leaves behind in his family. It may be small comfort at such a sad time but they should be very proud of all he did without fear or favour for the cause of so many all over Britain.
He was a thoroughly decent gentleman, guided in his conduct and staunchness by his deep faith. We hope he is now at peace in Gods hands. He deserves it and thanks many times over for all he did for Britain’s fishing and coastal communities, and his country as a whole.
Rest well Tom, you deserve it.
The funeral will be held at 1030 on Saturday 14th March at Almanythie Hall, Grange Road, Peterhead