Generous Londoner Tommy Ryan leaves gift in Will to Alzheimer’s Research UK


By Philip Tubby | Friday 08 September 2017

Former mechanical and electrical engineer Tommy Ryan has left £60,000 in his Will to dementia research after struggling with the condition himself.

Tommy, who was born in Ireland, was well known around East London for his generosity, having spent his latter years helping others in his local community in Canning Town and Whitechapel.

As a young man Tommy had been in the merchant Navy and travelled on the famous Cunard Queen Mary liner which was once frequented by royalty and iconic celebrities including Bob Hope and Elizabeth Taylor. The ship was also known for its contribution to World War II: spending several years ferrying 765,000 Allied troops to safety, when it was nicknamed the “Grey Ghost”.

Tommy Ryan

Tommy then went on to work on ships in London and Saudi Arabia.

His close friend Thomas Lamont recalls how his friend moved about a lot over the years until he retired and settled in London.

He said:

“I met Tommy back in late 1980 in Saudi Arabia where he had been working as a mechanical and electrical maintenance engineer for an airport that was being built at the time. He essentially managed the temporary power sources when the airport was being built.

“I worked there for periods of time then went back home but every time I returned I caught up with him. After I left for the last time we exchanged details and didn’t hear from him for a few years then had a message from him one day, completely out of the blue. He wanted me to call him.

“Following the call, we met up again and continued to meet up once a month for a meal and drinks for a catch up.”

Throughout Tommy’s lifetime he was a key member of his local Catholic church where he was an organist and helped numerous choirs.

Mr Lamont added:

“He was always a social person, a very charitable and generous type of chap. He was always there to help others.”

However, when Tommy reached his late 60s Mr Lamont noticed during one of their usual catch ups his friend was struggling to pick up his drink and shortly afterwards he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Less than a year later Mr Lamont noticed Tommy had become confused and forgetful.

He said:

“He phoned me one week and arranged to meet me for a coffee and then he didn’t turn up.

“I called him and asked him where he was and he’d completely forgotten. It turned out he had the early symptoms of dementia and was diagnosed just 12 months after he received his diagnosis of Parkinson’s.”

Over the next five years Tommy’s health deteriorated and he had to move initially to an assisted living unit and then to a care home when he kept going out and getting lost, unable to find his way home.

He sadly died in hospital from complications following a fall in the care home he had been living in.

A service was held shortly afterwards at St. Margaret’s RC Church, Canning Town.

Mr Ryan, who was 74 when he died, left money from the sale of his home to Alzheimer’s Research UK, Great Ormond Street Hospital and The Catholic Children’s Society.

Georgina Hyman, Legacy & In Memoriam Manager at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“We are so grateful to Mr Ryan for living us a gift in his Will. The money we receive from people as a result of gifts in their Wills amounts to more than a third of our overall income and therefore is incredibly important in our fightback against dementia.

“Without the generosity of people like Mr Ryan we would not be able to make the progress that we are making in dementia research.”

For more information about creating your own Will or pledging to leave a gift to Alzheimer’s Research UK visit


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Philip Tubby