John Coster writes:
I am writing to share my thoughts about Hilary.
Hilary was a very good modeller which I noticed the first time we met. He built Fairmile D MTB 777 as a homage to his father who commanded the boat during the war and over the years he re-built the drive systems to keep it up to date. It is an excellent model and shows his sense of humour with the crew figures about to enjoy a cup of tea as they return to base after a night patrol. He said in real life it was a round of gins to keep spirits up but that was best kept more private. This was a very large model and the new brushless motors and speed controllers made it the first of ‘Hilary’s hoodlum navy’ as it raced very speedily around the ponds and lakes. It set the trend to have extra fast models which was followed by several others. They made a fine sight as they emulated the real naval operations and sped across the water. They generally cleared the water of other models as Britain rules the waves. The public always admired his models and he varied the flotilla with a steam gun boat, a motor gun boat, a special operations seaplane tender and a Swiss patrol boat which linked to Philip Bellamy who lives in Switzerland. Hilary gave this the number 666 to have a joke with the biblical reference.
His models were always a very full part of the SWA displays and always a good number were included in the award winning exhibition at Alexandra Palace, at Headcorn which he organised, at Warwick, at Chartwell, at Bicton and other venues. He motorised some very small models in 1/72 scale but they always had the correct motors and propellers which was no mean feat in such miniature pieces.
The professional work in logistics made him the organiser of the travelling group who rallied across Europe to German exhibitions at Sinsheim and Karlsruhe. The typical pensioners who were on these forays needed some managing as they had limited experience of European roads but he was always patient and knowledgeable. He took a full part in the display and social activities and at all the events he was very willing to answer the public’s questions about the models and especially he knew all about the motors and speed controllers and advised me on the matter. He was kind enough to let me ask the same question over again as I lost the notes that were made the first time of asking.
His work as membership secretary was excellent as he dealt with random enquiries about naval matters and directed the person to likely places to find the answers. He never failed to have an up to date list of the members, their models and their subscriptions for all of our committee meetings.
He was very proficient at the shows where I never saw him annoyed by the sometimes maddening public questions and only once did he ask me to take over a conversation from a man who had had the same conversation twice earlier in the day about his own irrelevant interests with Hilary and he didn’t think he could have another half-hour on the subject again.
He was a really good travelling companion over the years we were together and always very considerate including offering to share his room at Warwick for the model boat show. He did have a surprisingly random set of screws and screwdrivers for his model boat boxes and took some considerable time to find all the right ones to unpack his models and then put them safely away and his wearing of two pairs of glasses surmounted by his unruly eyebrows and his ready smile is a lasting image for me. I am very sorry that he cannot carry on his excellent work in all the areas that greatly helped warship modelling and the association and the people that he met.