Thomas Charles Foley always loved walking and never learnt to drive. Throughout his life, the founder of the Pedestrians Association - the predecessor to Living Streets - campaigned tirelessly to improve life for pedestrians as he became more and more concerned about the dangers posed to people by increasing motorised transport.
Tom was born in Liverpool on 4 December 1896. He was the middle of three sons born to William Albert Foley, a commercial traveller, and Minnie (nee Ring). As a young man, Tom wanted to enter the medical profession but so did his younger brother Edwin - so Tom went out to work to support his younger sibling through medical school.
After leaving Liverpool Collegiate School, Tom trained as a journalist and worked for the Wallasey News. He later worked for a selection of London newspapers before starting his own independent news agency. He often used the pen name Terence Traherne.
In 1926 Tom married Avis Dolphin, who was a survivor of the Lusitania tragedy. He had met her at the house of the man credited with saving her life in the disaster. Tom and Avis were Quakers and both had very strong principles.
Tom’s concerns around road safety were confounded by the death of a friend in a road traffic accident. In 1929, he persuaded Viscount Cecil to join him in starting The Pedestrians Association with the aim of representing the rights of pedestrians and promoting road safety.
In September of the same year, his first child, a son, was born, followed 20 months later by a daughter. Apart from some donations, Tom financially supported the association throughout its early years.
I am very proud of my grandfather and all he achieved. He was a man of great integrity and strong principles, but he also had a wonderful sense of humour and fun. He was a modest man, but I am sure he would be proud and delighted to know that the organisation he started in 1929 is still going strong, and still campaigning for the rights of pedestrians almost 90 years later!
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