The first in a series of interviews by Carol Rennie.
“I was born here. My father was born here. We have a long connection to Keswick through his mother’s side.
My paternal grandfather, Edwin Thompson, was from Hexham, and convalesced at Lingholm during World War I. He started at Pape & Martin’s land agents, changing the name to Edwin Thompson when they retired.
My father built up the business and there are now around 80 staff in offices in Keswick, Kendal, Windermere, Carlisle, Berwick, Galashiels, and a virtual branch in Newcastle. It’s unusual in that it offers the whole property package, including sales, estate management, foresters, architects, building surveyors, commercial valuers, and experts in wind and hydro-electric power.
As a partner I did a lot of management and office admin but I’m fully retired now. My brother Neal is the last of our family still in the business. He went away to St Bees, whereas I went to Keswick School.
From the age of about 11, my father used to take me on the odd farm visit to hold the end of a tape measure and in the office I would answer the telephone, make the coffee, do the post, and even did a few accompanied viewings!
My mother’s parents were from Carlisle. My grandfather was the managing director of Teasdale’s sweet factory. My mother trained as a physiotherapist and when I was fifteen she returned to part-time work at the cottage hospital, a job she loved.
After leaving school I took a year out, getting a job for a few months as a mother’s help in Brussels via the Lady magazine, then a secretarial course in London, and latterly working for Edwin Thompson in the preparation of particulars for the sale of a large estate. I was the junior gopher in a team of four and it was a lot of fun.
I then took a degree in estate management at Reading University and subsequently qualified as a surveyor in the land agency division with Smiths Gore in Carlisle. After qualifying I decided to do a cordon bleu course in London and then went cooking in private houses for a few years, which I loved.
But, very Captain Sensible, I realised I would never be able to buy a house if I kept on cooking, so returned to work in the family firm in the early ‘80s. I was only planning to do about two years but became a partner after a few more – and there I was 36 years later!
A land agent doesn’t make a fortune but if you like being outside and you like meeting people, it’s a great job. My contemporaries who stayed in property might have a yacht and a swimming pool and wonderful holidays but when I looked out of my office window at Grisedale Pike, took my dogs into the office, had a ten-minute drive to get to work, went for a run on the fells on the way home, I wouldn’t have changed my life for theirs.
I played squash for Keswick Ladies. We had a very good team, winning the Cumbria League several times and were well known for our food and social life! Then I got into running, first on the roads, then the fells, winning the LV50 British and English Championships and later
the LV55 English Championships.”
Lyn is still running with Keswick AC, walks and fell runs with her springer spaniel and black Patterdale terrier and travels and spends time with partner Geoff Somers, the polar adventurer.