Edwin “Tubby” Hillson

Edwin Hillson was known as “Tubby” from his days as a young man in the Royal Navy, and the nickname stuck throughout his life. Born in 1927 and brought up in the East End of London, he started work in the City as a messenger boy, then trained as an accountant, rising to become a Company Director of a major export company.

Tubby married Pat (better known in her later life as "Tricia") in 1952, and they settled in Palmers Green, North London, where they lived until he died. Their two children arrived in 1955 (David) and 1957 (Ann). A comfortable family life was turned upside down in 1969 when God broke into the family through a series of miraculous healings, bringing the whole family to faith. In 1970 YWAM arrived in England, sending a small experimental pioneer team to explore the possibility of starting a base in UK. The Hillson family got involved in supporting the team, and all four became committed YWAMmers.

Tubby stayed in fulltime employment, but joined the first Board of YWAM England as Company Secretary. His wisdom and enthusiasm were vital in those early days, as were his business and accounting skills. But he was never more happy than when he was out witnessing, first at the Munich Olympics, and frequently after that. Tubby & Tricia turned their London home into a hospitality centre for travelling YWAMmers, both staff and students, and many hundreds passed through the house and were blessed by the care and love they received there.

Tubby planned early retirement from his City job, to devote himself fully to YWAM, but in the winter of 1984 he developed chest and back pains, with difficulty swallowing. Doctors diagnosed oesophageal cancer, and promised a full recovery after radical surgery. God however had other plans, and Tubby died on the operating theatre table in a London hospital on 6 February 1985 at the age of 57. This unexpected loss was a terrible shock for Tricia and the family, as well as for Tubby’s many friends in YWAM and the business world. His funeral was a wonderful celebration of a life dedicated to serving God and his people through YWAM. It remains a mystery why God took him home at a comparatively young age, but all who knew Tubby Hillson were blessed and enriched, and he left a lasting legacy in his family and others who encountered this very special man. [See also Tricia’s memorial page – 2001]

6 thoughts on “Edwin “Tubby” Hillson”

  1. I met Tubby Hillson through his son, David, and daughter-in-law, Liz, way-back in the 80s. He struck me as a man of great integrity, and had a particularly lovely twinkle of life in his eye. It was at a time in my profession when I felt God had more than a 9-5 job, and Tubby enthusiastically, but gently introduced me to YWAM. Because of his wise and humble devotion to God and mankind (as well as his vast knowledge of the mission) I decided to take the DTS plunge, and haven’t looked back since! That was in January 1985. Sadly, Tubby died during my lecture phase: a very great loss indeed, as he was such a remarkably kind and loving man. Thankfully, his legacy lives on through Ann, his daughter, and David, who took an SOE in Lausanne in 1972-3. David is an outstanding speaker and, when he’s not travelling the world on various business assignments, is available to speak at YWAM schools. A remarkable family indeed…

  2. Tubby had a great smile and a great laugh and made you feel immediately at home. He was so bright and smart and yet had such humility. With his skills – he helped YWAM UK administratively get off to a great start. He loved the Lord, he loved Tricia and his family. He was a great testimony and pioneer to finishing one career and starting a second one with YWAM.

    G Stephen Goode

  3. I had the honour to meet Tubby in 1970 at his home in London and later in Switzerland. He was the greatest example of the Christian virtues of cheerfulness, courage and humility. Whatever happened he did not lose his temper or sense of humour. I remember he was peeling carrots and sliced his finger badly requiring a trip to the hospital. All Tubby said was, “Oh, I just cut the top of my finger off!” He and his wife Trish were a team who brought a shining Christian example and love to all they met. If anyone witnessed to the love of Christ, they did.

  4. Tubby was a mentor for me in YWAM England. I remember how he was committed to our having professional standards in every area of our finances so that no one could ever have cause to question our integrity.

    As few of us had a professional background at that point, he was a gift of God to us, helping establish proper procedures and principles in the foundations of YWAM UK.

    Professional yet exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit in all he did.

    Ila Howard.

  5. I had reason today, as I was preparing a birthday card for Ann’s birthday tomorrow, to recall again the lives of your parents. Your father was the first to make us deeply welcome into your family home, where we then met your mother and you and Ann. The photo is how we always remember him — always with that smile and a “can do” attitude alongside his expertise. We are indebted to this day for the foundations he laid into not only the legal and financial structures of YWAM, but the godliness and hunger for God he lived out with a remarkable servant heart of humility. Never to be forgotten!

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