Fred Nickson

Fred isn’t a person to let the grass grow under his feet. Born and brought up in Ascot, Fred’s wanted to be a police cadet but the legacy of a childhood illness meant that he failed the medical test. With an interest in cars, he apprenticed to be a car mechanic instead. Once fully trained, he opened his own car servicing workshop but it didn’t work out. In his spare time he helped out at a local Youth Club.

So, at the age of 22, he set off for Australia as a ‘£10 Pom’ – taking advantage of a scheme whereby the Australian government welcomed immigrants and gave an assisted passage. There, Fred worked for an American company as an hydraulics engineer for an abattoir equipment supplier. Since there was very little equipment for him to service, his boss asked him to sell the equipment too. With the whole of Australia and also Papua New Guinea to cover, he eventually started training to obtain a pilot’s licence to travel around. It was a good life for a single man if perhaps a little lonely.

in 1967, he returned to the UK for a holiday but en route was caught up in the Israel/Egypt Six Day War. Once home and killing time, he volunteered to help out at a Jumble Sale in aid of the Youth Club – and met Sue. His fate was sealed and two years later they were married. Two daughters followed (and, in later years, four grandchildren) and they all shared a large house with Sue’s parents in Aborfield. When Sue’s parents died the house was far too big for them so they started house hunting and homed in on Peppard. That was 28 years ago.

Fred at that time, having never lost his interest in cars, managed garages for seven years before changing track completely and joining a company that supplied dental laboratories and hospitals. Starting out as a salesman and then becoming MD, he was with the company for 12 yearsIn the course of his work he learnt about precious metals and the weights and measures used. Many of these were replaced by more modern equipment and Fred began to collect them and then old medical instruments followed. This sparked the interest in antiques that lasts until this day.

He eventually left the company and started his own country clothing shop in Caversham with mail order and wholesale sides but the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001 spelled disaster for this type of business. Luckily, he had already started to build up his antiques business, initially as a sideline and then as his main interest. Almost by accident, Fred bought an old post box and placed it on the pavement outside his shop. It generated lots of interest before he sold it for a substantial profit. This lead to a passion for British post boxes and to this day, he still buys, restores and sells around 150 a year to buyers from all over the world. When the day comes when he finds them too heavy to lift, he may consider retiring!

It was only two years after Fred and Sue had settled in Peppard that Fred volunteered for the Parish Council on which he stood for around five years. The Parish Council worked closely with the newly-formed Peppard Revels Committee, so naturally Fred joined that Committee too: he helped plan and organise the celebrations for the first and following four Peppard Revels and also organised the raffle.

With a little more time on his hands he is now a member of several committees: the Patients Participatory Group for the Sonning Common Health Centre, Sonning Common Village Hall, the Chiltern Edge Community Association and last, but not least, FISH.

He volunteered to drive the FISH mini-bus six years ago but then was forced to stand down because of eyesight problems. Phil Clark, the Chairman at that time, saw his opportunity and asked Fred to take over the Chair. Fred’s first reaction was to say ‘No’ but in the end he relented. He has overseen many changes at FISH, perhaps the most significant is moving the office from the Village Hall to larger premises in Kennylands Road.

Fred still attends antiques fairs and when delivering a post box often persuades Sue to join him so that they can make a short break of it. Antiques is a seasonal business so they are able to take more holidays now. Indeed, this year Fred made a New Year’s resolution to take more holidays.

One ambition not totally fulfilled yet is to see all seven wonders of the natural world. He has seen four and there are three to go – the harbour of Rio de Janeiro, the live Mexican volcano of Paricutin and Mount Everest.

Fred claims that he is now too old for Mount Everest but such is his energy and drive that it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Peppard News carries a feature in the future of Fred’s climb of Mount Everest.

Rita Hadgkiss