Tuesday, 3 December 2013

NWR Editorial: A Tribute to Hilary Fortnam


Hilary Fortnam (left) with Thomas (centre) and Veronica Chambers (right) 
at Drayton Manor in 2010.

After a whole decade battling with cancer, Hilary Fortnam (nee Awdry) had passed away on November 25th 2013. Her death was announced this week through British media and passed on towards the Thomas fan base. I never had a chance to meet the woman herself. But hearing about her through friends from the UK and from various people who had a chance to see her, she's very passionate about father's and brother's work. In her lecture in the 1995 documentary, 'The Thomas the Tank Engine Man', in her lecture 'Growing Up with Thomas the Tank Engine' she says that whenever her dad writes a new story, he would get his children to read it and see how it turns out. She may not have written the books unlike her father and brother, but she helped out by giving her opinions about the story and we wouldn't have such great stories today about Thomas and his friends in the Railway Series books. 

In 2011, with the outcry from religious groups, parents and older fans of the series, she criticised HIT Entertainment for the use of the word 'Winter Holidays' used in the recent series instead of 'Christmas'. Now the recent series had re-dubbed the new series with the word 'Christmas' and now in 2013, the recent US DVD 'Santa's Little Engine', with the new production team have added them in the new S17 episodes with the term 'Merry Christmas'. 

It's a shame that someone who had helped creating the phenomenal success of Thomas the Tank Engine had passed on. But her memory will still be kept alive through fans of the television series and of course, what started it all, the Railway Series books. She had approved of 'Blue Mountain Mystery' and I'm sure she would've approved 'King of The Railway'. At least she will rest now in eternal peace knowing that Thomas the Tank Engine are in the right hands of Andrew Brenner and his team. 

I like to give my condolences to the Awdry and the Fortnam family and friends. 

(1946 - 2013)