Toby Greenwood

Toby Greenwood is such an ebullient man; to interview him to is be assailed by loud laughter, vivid memories, vibrant descriptions, amusing anecdotes and many, many facts. It is no surprise then, that he chose the law as a profession.

Born Andrew Timothy John Greenwood but known as Toby. How come? When his mother, who it seems is quite a character, was pregnant she would greet his godfather, who had a dachshund called Toby, with ‘How’s Toby?’, the response would always be ‘How’s your Toby?’ and it stuck.

He was born in Kenya and had a seemingly idyllic childhood with the view from his bedroom window being miles of empty white beach. His indomitable mother, now 95 years old, would frequently drive Toby and his sister, Rosie, in her Morris Minor 1000 for picnics in the mountains. Indeed, she was once stopped by the Mau Mau!

At nine years old Toby came to the UK for his schooling – first at Hemel Hempstead and then at Sherborne School in Dorset near his mother’s English cottage. Finally, he studied law at Bristol University from where he graduated in 1973.

Although he came from a privileged background he has experience of a different life. He failed his Law Society exams several times and when he did knuckle down to study for them he lived on the ‘dole’. He also went off to Greece with some friends with £100 in his pocket and managed to live for five weeks by sleeping on the beach.

Eventually he qualified and was articled to a firm of solicitors in Reading and then he finally moved to Cooper, Son and Caldecott in Henley from where he eventually retired as a senior partner in 2012.

In 1977, in the Crown Court, he first met Judy who was a Probation Officer. They subsequently met again at a party and were married a year later. Three sons followed – now all in their 30s and with families of their own. In 1984 they found the perfect house in Peppard that suited all the family’s needs and have never given a thought to leaving since.

His zest for life has always kept him very involved in various activities and sports. He sang in his school and university choirs, he sings now in the Henley Choral Society and for All Saints’. He was also a Scout Leader in Stoke Row for three years. At school he played rugby and throughout his youth he played squash competitively and still plays now. He rowed at college and is a member of the Leander Club. As if this were not enough, he plays both tennis and golf regularly.

As a child he viewed Mount Kilimanjaro from afar and thus actually climbing it was something he always wanted to do. He eventually fulfilled this ambition as a young man with a couple of friends and his godson. It took five days in all but the view at dawn from the summit was worth every minute.

Now that he is virtually retired, he volunteers to help children read at Micklands Primary School in Caversham. He spends just half an hour with each of three children requiring help: children who have fallen behind for various reasons or English is their second language. He uses prescribed books or games and even plays I-Spy to help their vocabulary. He has introduced them to poetry and they actually write their own poems now.

Having never entirely shed his roots, he is also Chairman of the Jacaranda Trust working with carefully selected projects in Zimbabwe. The charity’s total donations have reached £100,000 after six years of existence.

A few years ago Toby was diagnosed with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) which is a type of depression sometimes known as ‘winter depression’ because the symptoms are more apparent and tend to be more severe during the winter. It is likely that this is a hangover of his childhood spent in the permanent sunshine so nowadays Toby ensures that he and Judy have a winter holiday in the sun.

Toby’s philosophy is that life is for living and no-one could dispute that he certainly does that.

Rita Hadgkiss