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Percy Harold Oliver
(1907 - 1997)
Percy Oliver in 1970
Percy Oliver in 1970

Percy at 63 years of age and a keen fisherman of home waters in and around Normandy in Surrey, and especially that of Vokes Lake, (now more formally known as Henley Park Lake), was rewarded in 1970 by catching a carp somewhat in excess of the then record weight attributed to such species. It is probable that the feat would have passed un-noticed by most had not David Redford, a close friend of Ray Oliver, son of Percy, each of whom had witnessed the catch, had not alerted "The Press" of the event. Fortunately the two boys had the presence of mind to photograph the event of that special day in Percy's fishing career - Sunday the 16th August 1970. Percy caught the fish in the middle of that Sunday's gale using a special quiver tip called a "Donkey top" by his friends! For the benefit of knowledgeable fishermen; Percy was using bread paste bait on a size 10 hook and a 2 lb 4 ounce line.

National Anglers Council certificate 16th August 1970
National Anglers Council certificate
16th August 1970
A typical days catch from Vokes Lake, Normandy c.1970
A typical days catch from Vokes Lake, Normandy c.1970

The then vacant British record was 3lbs 7ozs. Percy's fish on that day in August was officially identified by Biologist Alwyne Wheeler of the British Museum as a Crucian Carp and its weight officially recorded by the National Anglers Society at 4lbs, 6 ounces and 4 drams.

Percy was a retiree of Messrs Vokes Ltd - a local engineering company with which he had been employed for some 25 years. During WWII he was an Army, motor-despatch rider when he met and married Rose in London. Regrettably, and whilst in the Army, he had a calamitous accident and was incapacitated for some three years managing to move around albeit with supportive leg-restraints. However with the cessation of hostilities Percy and Rose followed the fortunes of Messrs Vokes Ltd; initially to the company's temporary premises in Guildford and eventually to new specially designed factory premises at Henley Park, in Normandy.

"Vokes Engineering" was world famous for the manufacture of filters demanded by suppliers of Military Vehicles such as Tanks and Aircraft. For more about the Company the reader is referred to "Henley Park in Surrey - The History of a Royal Manor" by John Squier and published in 2012 by Normandy Historians.

"The Oliver's" firstly took-up residence in a cottage on the slopes of the Hogs Back, moving periodically closer to the centre of Normandy village and eventually to being among the first of many family to movie into the new houses at Walden Cottages, there bringing up their three boys Harold, Raymond and Richard at Number 25.

Percy served with the Company for 25 years, many of which were as foreman in charge of F shop at Normandy, but in his latter years (prior to retirement), was offered and accepted the position of a Gardener to the Company's ever- extending horticultural surrounds to the many new buildings.

Sadly, Rose his wife, died in 1987 shortly after having celebrated their 50th Anniversary. Percy, who lived for his fishing, died suddenly in 1997, but he will be long remembered by many of the "fishermen youth" of the Village who benefitted from Percy's fishing experience and tuition. Some names come to mind very easily, according to Richard and Ray (sons of Percy and Rose), namely, Peter and Mike Gaines and Ray Stiff.

P T Blakiston

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