TOOMBS, Dennis, Douglas, was born in northwest London on 13 August 1919 and was an only child of Douglas and Jessica Toombs née Bush. His father worked on the railways and Dennis was educated at Kilburn Grammar School. During the Second World War Dennis Toombs served in the Home Civil Defence as a Post Warden and instructor, based at the library in Salisbury Road, Kilburn. He had joined J. Lyons & Company Ltd in 1937 by obtaining employment as a Clerk in their wholly owned subsidiary, Normand Ltd. In 1946 he married Grace Heald and the marriage produced two children, Trevor (b.1948) and Stephanie (b.1955).
In 1947 Dennis transferred to Hayes Laundry (also a Lyons subsidiary) as Systems Investigator and twelve months later transferred to the Works Office at Cadby Hall as a Special Duty Clerk undertaking various assignments within the company. In 1949 he joined the Catering Office as Group Leader and by January 1952 became Section Supervisor of the Valuation Section dealing with Teashops and Corner House results. In 1954 he joined the Systems Research Department as an Organisation & Methods Investigator where he was involved in transferring clerical jobs to the LEO computer. In April 1958 he was promoted to Office Services Manager during which time he centralised the Cadby Hall telephone system, postal systems, copying services and clerical office stores. At this time he was also responsible for the installation of a new telephone exchange at Cadby Hall with a switchboard for 20 operators who handled 14,000 calls per day. It provided a 24 hour service seven days a week.
By 1964 Dennis had joined the LEO and Methods Department at Cadby Hall as Communications Manager responsible for computer input/output. Two years later he joined Lyons Computer Services, a department providing computer services to other departments/divisions within Lyons. In 1965 he was again responsible for replacing the old plugs and cord manually operated telephone exchange with more automatic facilities where users could dial outside numbers themselves. In May 1970 he was given additional responsibilities as Deputy Chief Executive of Lyons Computer Services Ltd, which they had become, deputising for George Stevens, the Chief Executive of this computing subsidiary.
In April 1973 Dennis was promoted to Operations Director of Lyons Computer Services Ltd responsible for providing a centralised computing service to the Lyons Group and to market computer usage externally. By August 1977 Dennis had completed 40-years service and was presented with the traditional gold watch. In his final year at work (1982) he supervised the installation and changeover of an electronic IBM 3750 telephone exchange integrating it with the associated Allied-Lyons plc network at Burton-on-Trent by which time J. Lyons had become part. Dennis retired in August 1982.
During the major part of his life Dennis Toombs had been a very active member of the Scouting community. In 1936 he was a Rover Scout of the 23rd Willesden Group and later became Assistant Cub Master staying with the pack until it was disbanded at the outbreak of war. In May 1945, with Grace Heald his fiancé, he re-formed the 23rd Willesden Cub pack by visiting Queen’s Park and ‘collecting’ eight interested boys. By the time of the couple’s wedding in 1946 the pack consisted of 32 members. As well as holding the Warrant of Cub-Master, Dennis was also an acting Group Scout Master of the 23rd Willesden Group and in August 1949 he obtained the Warrant of Group Scout Master. In later years he joined the Willesden District staff as Assistant Commissioner for Senior Scouts and only retired from his scouting responsibilities when 65 years old. The 23rd Willesden Scout Group continues to flourish under the leadership of his son, Trevor.
For his dedication to Scouting, Dennis received the Long Service Award, the Medal of Merit and in 1979 one of Scouting’s highest awards, the Silver Acorn. This can only be awarded after a Medal of Merit has been gained and 20-years service in Scouting. The Silver Acorn can only be awarded on St George’s Day and this entitled Dennis to attend the St George’s Day Parade at Windsor where his son was leading a contingent in the march past; a proud day for the family.
During his retirement Dennis continued his participation in social and community affairs; he continued with his Scouting activities, was a member of the area Neighbourhood Watch scheme, a National Trust member with his local group, a fund-raiser for his local hospice and a member of the Conservative Association. He enjoyed reading, walking, DIY and travelling.
Dennis Toombs died on 23 September 1993 and wife Grace on 1 September 2013. Both had been entirely devoted to each other during their lives. They had unselfishly given a great deal of their leisure time to Scouting causes. They are succeeded by Trevor and Stephanie, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.