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]