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Tommy Coates



Tommy Coates   1915 - 1930
Widespread sympathy has been extended to Mr. and Mrs. Percy Coates, of "Stilecrest," Goldsmid Road, Tonbridge, on the death of their only son, aged 15 years, Thomas Charles Hastings Coates, who passed away at the Cottage Hospital on Saturday while under an anaesthetic administered during an operation.

Mr. A. H. Neve, County Coroner, held an inquiry into the circumstances of death at the hospital on Monday.

Percy Coates, "Stilecrest," Goldsmid Road, identified the body as that of his son, who lived with him when not at Kingís School, Canterbury. He was 15 years of age last birthday. His health was very good, beyond this trouble and with the exception of an attack of influenza he contracted during the winter when he was at school.

The Coroner: Did you have any communication with the medical officer at Canterbury? Witness: Dr. E. S. Cardell was informed of, my sonís trouble and was advised to arrange for something to be done during the holidays.

Continuing, witness said his son came home from school on the previous Tuesday, and Dr. Roy Houston examined him on the Thursday morning. Dr. Houston agreed with what the Canterbury medical officer had said. Witness arranged that his son should enter the Cottage Hospital and the operation was arranged to take place on Saturday. Since they had known of the trouble his son had not played games during which he might receive a knock - such games as rugby and hockey. He was allowed to run, swim and row.

Dr. Roy Houston said Mr. Coates consulted him about his son, and he made the examination on Thursday morning. Witness agreed with the opinion of the Canterbury medical officer, and the operation was arranged to be performed on Saturday. It took place at 11.45. Deceased did not seem unusually nervous about it, and took the anaesthetic well. Dr. J. H. Noble, who was assisting, administered the anaesthetic, and he was a very experienced person. Witness performed the operation, which required great care, and it proved very successful from a surgical point of view. Witness closed up the wound, while Dr. Noble removed the mask. Deceased was breathing quite nicelv and normally. They then spontaneously noticed that something was wrong when deceased began to change colour, they applied stimulants and tried respiration for one hour and forty minutes without effect.

The Coroner: Before you performed the operation was his condition normal? Witness: He was normal in every respect with the exception of the trouble. The heart was normal.

Dr. Houston said that after the death an examination was made, and he wrote down the observations he made.

The Coroner mentioned to Mr. Coates that he could ask questions if he desired to do so. Mr. Coates: Would previous treatment have done any better? - It is very doubtful. I think the result would have been just the same.

How early could it have been discovered? When he was about three years of age, but only by looking for it.

What would have happened had he not had the operation? - He would have developed some form of cancer. He might have lived for some time.

Dr. Houston said the trouble would have debarred him from entering any profession or service requiring a clean bill of health. Witness did not give him an extra dose of the anaesthetic because he took the first very well.

Dr. Andrews was present at the inquest, and Mr. Coates expressed his wish to ask him questions.

The Coroner mentioned he had in the past dealt with three or four cases, and in each nothing could be done. Life could not be saved.

Mr. Coates asked Dr. Andrews whether he or Dr. Cardell had examined deceased several months ago and given him a certificate with the view to his being entered in the Navy as a cadet.

Dr. Andrews said that probably Dr. Cardell had only to fill in questions on the form regarding his health.

Dr. Houston: In any case you could not find anything unless you looked for it. Mr. Coates said he quite realised that the medical men had done all in their power for his son. He then asked whether they thought the parents had done right in allowing the operation to take place and had they anything to reproach themselves about.

Dr. Houston said the parents had done the right thing in the interests of the health of their son. It was very bad luck he did not get over the operation.

The Coroner stated that death was due to status lymphaticus, and he returned a verdict of death from misadventure.

Although Tommy Coates was so young, he was exceptionally well-known in Tonbridge as an exceedingly bright youth who possessed a very promising career. He was full of life and good spirit, and possessed a personality which made him a favourite among all with whom he was associated. He had many friends and was especially popular with his school chums. Tommy, as he was affectionately known, had his early education at Malvern Preparatory School, after which he went to Skinnersí School, Tunbridge Wells, where he remained for a period of over three years.

Here he made good progress both in his scholastic work and in sports. His death came as a great shock to his school colleagues and many friends. Among the letters of condolence received by his parents is one from the head master of Skinnersí School, expressing deep regret and condolence, and referring appreciatively to his good work while at that school. Tommy went to Kingís School, Canterbury, at the beginning of the Easter term, which has recently ended, and thus it was during his present holidays that he passed away. Although only at Kingís School a short time he endeared himself to the students and the masters, who appreciated his keenness to take an active part in school life. His abilities on the sports field were soon recognised, and for the first month he was in the House Rugby XI., having been one of Skinnersí School most promising players. When his trouble developed, however, he was forced to give up the game which was a source of great regret to him. Nothing daunted, Tommy speedily took up other sports. He became a member of the School rowing club and next term was expected to row for his house. He was a good runner and competed in the steeplechase, in which he secured a creditable position at the finish, out of the 60 competitors. He was also a good swimmer. Having had experience at Skinnersí School, Tommy was admitted to the second platoon of the O.T.C., and became an efficient member. He had always loved the sea and it was his ambition to embark upon a seafaring life. While at school he devoted special interest to the study of subjects which would assist him in that direction. His house master, Mr. Alec McDonald, in a letter of sympathy to Mr. and Mrs. Coates, said Tommy was rapidly settling down in his first term at the school, that he was showing promise both as a scholar and sportsman, and that he gave every indication of developing into a fine man.

The parents have received many expressions of sympathy and condolence, among which is a letter from the head master of King School, who wrote on behalf of the staff and scholars. Thus has passed away a useful young life, but the memory of Tommy Coates will not fade from the minds of his numerous friends.

The funeral took place on Wednesday afternoon amidst many manifestations of sympathy. Prior to the internment at Tonbridge Cemetery, a short service was held in St. Stephenís Church, at which there was a large congregation, including many friends at Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells. The Rev. D. M. B. Chapman conducted the service, assisted by the Rev. L. Atherton. The family mourners were: Mr. and Miss Coates (father and sister), Mr. E. Ashton (cousin), Mrs. Ashton (aunt), Mr. Jabez Coates (uncle), Mr. Victor Coates (cousin), Mr. A. Coates (uncle), Mr. James Coates (cousin), Miss A. Roberts (aunt). Mrs. Coates (mother) was unable to be present. Among those present in the church and at the graveside were: Major Bye (Head Master of Skinnersí School), Mrs. Wells, Mrs. Dugdale, Mr. and Mrs. Brooks, Mrs. Hasemore, Mrs. Price, Mr. Norman Sales, Walter Ellis, C. Dugdale and H. Ives (friends), Mr. E. M. Muldoon (Scoutmaster), Mrs. Ives, Mr. and Mrs. E. W. Parsons, Mr. J. Payne, Mr. H. Rooke, Mr. R. Burns, Miss E. Nutley, Miss Sparrow and Miss Batt (employees at 62 High Street), Mr. Shelton and Mrs. Raymond. The floral tributes were from: His mother and father; his sister Lavinia; Aunt Orpah and Uncle Frank; Conservative Association (South Ward); Mr. and Mrs. C. Phillips; Vi, Dorrie, Grace and Joan; Phil and Mrs. Swaysland; Mr. and Mrs. Raymond and Rita; Dorrie and Reg; all at "Beverley"; Mr. and Mrs Page and Arthur; Uncle Jabez and Aunt Dollie; Mr. and Mrs. Scougal; Elsie; Mabel; Cis and Tom; Uncle Ernest and Emily; Eva and Bert; employees at 62 High Street; Mr. and Mrs. J. Payne; old comrades at Malvern House School; Carlos and the other boys from Skinnersí School; Jimmy Ballham; Mr. and Mrs. W. Douch and family; his little friend, Norine; Uncle Adin and Aunt Bertha; Mr. Stonestreet, Joan and Beryl; Mr. and Mrs. Shelton and family; A. and B. Lane; Mollie Rushbridge; Ethel Austin; Mr. and Mrs. James Moss; Miss E. Sutton; Mr. and Mrs. J. S. Woolley and family; Mr. and Mrs. E. W. Parsons; his dear old nurse; Mr. and Mrs. A. Killick and Eric; Rene and Vic; Aunt Aggie and Miss Elcombe; Frank and Kenneth Webber; the Head Master, staff and boys at Skinnersí School; Mr. and Mrs. R. Barkaway and Charlie; E. L. and G. H. Agnew ("Stranaer"); Aunt Edie, Ernest and Ethel; Madeline, Phyllis and Norman Sales; Walter Ellis; Desmond; all at "Roseberry"; Mr. and Mrs. E. H. Hall; Miss D. Wilson; Mr. and Mrs. Skilton; Josie and Neville; Mr. and Mrs. Chalcroft; and Gordon.

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