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“Has Anyone Seen Tom?”

The day an old mill in Blainville-Crevon, France, burnt and the Vocal community wept

By Judey Kalchik Published 3 years ago Updated 3 years ago 8 min read
Tom and his Coop, from one of his Vocal stories

Blainville-Crevon--In the wee hours of the morning on Monday, September 27, 2021, while most of the world was still asleep, a Vocal Creator and recent Challenge Winner was facing the last challenge of his all too short life. Tom, as many of us knew him, was inside his burning home known as the Old Mill located in the town center of Blainville-Crevon. By the time thirty-one firefighters arrived, the old mill and historical landmark was fully engulfed and mostly destroyed. It wasn't until much later in the afternoon, that a body was discovered in the ruins.

"How's the man doing? Have the firefighters found the man? How's Tom?", asked bystanders and townspeople gathered to help as much as they were allowed to help. Sadly, it is widely believed that Tom is the person whose body was discovered in the fire. The remains were described as matching the description of Tom.

It wasn't long before those that knew Tom learned of the horrific accident. Vocal Creator, Judey Kalchik broke the news to her Facebook Group, The Vocal Creators Support Group, Monday evening September 27, and from there it spread across several Facebook Groups and platforms. Tom had an effect on folks and it wasn't until the announcement of his death, the realization occurred of just how many people Tom had touched in the Vocal community. Thus, we have collaborated to bring you a story about the Tom we knew and came to love as an inspirational Vocal Creator. (Note: many other stories and posts, including a Spotlight from Vocal, have been written, and many are linked throughout this article. This story was started the day after we learned of the fire and took some time to complete because, frankly, I was hoping everyone was wrong and Tom would still be with us. Reluctantly, I have accepted that this is not the case. EDIT: For this reason MANY OTHER ARTICLES that have been written in the past three weeks are not included. Please do check out the Top Stories, Spotlight, Tom's own writing, and search by Ton's name in Vocal to read more. Note- the original post included a small number of names, meant to recognize the interaction Tom had with Vocal writers. Some were brief interactions, some were daily. All were treasured. As not list could possibly be considered complete, as these writers know not to whom and with whom Tom interacted with 100% certainty, the list has been deleted out of an abundance of caution and concern lest it offends. )

Tom’s Background

Blainville-Crevon Mill built in the 1600s and recently restored by Tom Bradbury is considered a national landmark, and is shown before the fire that consumed it. (Tom's Facebook page)

From what we know, Tom is a Briton who fell in love with an old mill in the northern French countryside and, along with his late father, bought it. The mill was a landmark to locals and was originally built in the 1600s. Tom took possession several years ago and converted it into his home, his studio, and a not-for-profit farm. The locals often referred to it as Tom’s Mansion. Based on what he showed the world on his Facebook Page, Restoration - Restore Yourself, and his YouTube channel of the same name, the project was a labor of love and one that was nearing completion. Tom had recently placed the old mill back on the market in preparation for returning home to England.

As if restoring a large, ancient mill in the French countryside isn’t enough for one man, Tom also found the time to write. For some time, he had been writing articles about the progress he had made on his work and posting them on his Facebook page. Then he discovered the platform and made the decision to move his curated work there and to create new articles for distribution. Along the way, he joined several Facebook groups dedicated to supporting Vocal creators and was an active voice in most of these groups.

Tom’s Friends

It wasn’t uncommon for Tom to assist new and experienced creators with their writings. Whenever someone posted a link to their new article, you could count on Tom being one of the first readers to respond, usually with a good word of encouragement. Vocal creators were amazed at Tom’s responsiveness and willingness to help. But don’t take our word for it. Instead, visit the Facebook Group yourself and read what others thought of Tom. We are including some of the comments here to highlight the feelings felt towards Tom, but these in no way communicate the full impact Tom had on the Vocal community. To list all of the comments here would take many pages.

Screenshots from The Vocal Creators Support Group showing members support for each other after Tom's death.

This is just a small sample of the many people who reached out to share their shock, grief, heartfelt condolences, and memories that they had of Tom and his influence on their writing. You may wonder what made Tom so special to complete strangers who never had the opportunity to meet him in person. Tom’s sincere desire to help people has been mentioned often, but the proof is truly in his words. Vocal creator Misha Aslehben shared a recent post by Tom regarding goal-setting:

“Well, it’s the first of June, a new month. The perfect time to take a look at our accounts and set some goals. If we share our goals it means we are accountable and we can work harder to achieve them. Challenge shortlists and Top Stories are not healthy goals to set as they are hard to quantify and reliant on subjective criteria. Hard to achieve goals we can control are worth setting. If you shoot for the moon and miss you are bound to get pretty high anyway. What goals do you want to achieve this June and do you have a plan to get there? Share in the comments below.”...written by Tom Bradbury for The Vocal Creators Lounge on June 1st, 2021.

Another Vocal creator, Gerald Holmes, quoted Tom’s own words in a very poignant example of Tom’s compassion, kindness, and heart.

“This paragraph from Tom Bradbury's "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted," moved me so much and will always be how I remember Tom:

"After the vet left, I lifted 'Petite Vache' out to the backfield and placed her under the big tree. The entire flock came and one by one said a goodbye to their pal. The only way to describe it is a funeral procession. It was truly one of the saddest, most beautiful things I have ever seen in my life. I left her with her family for three hours and then returned to carry her back over the river to be with her son."

Arpad T. Nagy’s friendship with Tom is one that must be highlighted. This was a friendship that went deeper than what was revealed online. We only witnessed what Tom and Arpad wanted us to see and the banter between the two was demonstrative of two men who had bonded and were well on their way to becoming life-long friends. Arpad is a professional chef, father, and husband who works and resides in Canada.

Whatever created their friendship, it was powerful enough to cause Arpad to write about Tom numerous times. Arpad authored an article titled, “Why Tom Bradbury is a Better Writer Than Me?”, which is a humorous examination of Arpad’s wife’s editorial duties. That article pales in comparison to Arpad’s ongoing series on “The Secret Life of Tom Bradbury”, which currently has a total of six chapters written.

Tom’s Writings

We have a lot of examples of Tom’s writings but the best place to begin is with the thought Tom left in his bio on every article he authored.

“Those who tell the stories rule society. If a story I write makes you smile, laugh or cry I would be honoured if you shared it and passed it on.” Tom Bradbury

“There’s a lot of truth in that bio. I have yet to read a story authored by Tom that didn’t make me smile, laugh or cry.” writes Joey Lowe. “Tom wrote an article titled, “The Drunken Bricklayer”, and then offered a personal challenge to anyone to pick up the mantle and write the next chapter. I have no idea how many writers accepted that challenge, but I know that Tom selected my article as his chapter two and then passed the responsibility of finishing the book along to me. I considered that a huge honor.”

The fact is Tom’s prose was addictive and guaranteed to promote a response from most readers. This is most likely why Tom won second place in two highly competitive Challenges. Five months ago, Tom wrote, “How to Make Dandelion Lemonade”, which gave him a second-place win in the Wave-Maker Challenge on Vocal. Earlier this month, Tom placed second in the A Day in the Life Challenge with his article titled, “What Becomes of The Broken Hearted?” Tom authored 69 stories for Vocal and encouraged countless other authors to write and publish on Vocal too. In a way, if a writer ever acted on any advice offered by Tom, his voice can then be found in their writings as well.

Farewell to Our Friend Tom: Until We See You Again

It was mentioned earlier that Tom planned to sell the old mill and return home to England. His reasons were his own but many who had private conversations with him were aware he was homesick. Yes, he had made a new life in France and had friends there (as well as all over the world), but there is a lot to be said about going home. In closing this tribute, there are hardly any words that can truly capture the void that is left behind. If you had the privilege of interacting with Tom in any of the Facebook Groups he was a member of, you already know about his character.

There’s nothing else that can be said.

Thus, we will leave you with a few photos that show Tom as the man of humor and plans that we knew. As you go about your business today, remember that tomorrow is never promised. If there is something that you’ve been wanting to do, but have been putting it off, don’t. Go do it and if you’re inclined give a nod to Tom.

Tom drinking his favorite beverage, Guinness Beer

The Old Mill nearly complete and ready to go on the market.

The Old Mill Attic space Tom wanted to convert into an office from which to write his books

The office adjacent to his living quarters in the Old Mill, from which his Vocal stories originated

Tom and his double-decker bus: another project.

Tom with a wagon on his property

(Edited by request) Collaborating on this post: Lisa Gerard Braun, Courtney Capone, and Joey Howe.

This is by no means an exhaustive gathering of the outpouring of grief at Tom's death and the gratitude felt for having interacted with him. Please refer to Tom's own profile as well as the several Top Stories and the Spotlight Vocal wrote as a memorial to Tom.

The article includes links (underlined words) that lead to a very small number of articles. Again, please use the many compilation articles to introduce you to other writings by those that knew and cared for Tom.

Tom's door never closed and his reach extended beyond Facebook group pages and writings on Vocal. New creators were welcomed with his kind words and established creators received his enthusiastic support right up to his final days with us.

We may not have met you face to face, Tom, but your words and influence on us have left a lasting impression.

By Степан Галагаев on Unsplash


About the Creator

Judey Kalchik

It's my time to find and use my voice.

Poetry, short stories, memories, and a lot of things I think and wish I'd known a long time ago.

You can also find me on Medium

And please follow me on Threads, too!

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Comments (2)

  • Judey Kalchik (Author)12 months ago

    This is a link to the funeral service]-R&c[0]=AT3vOleXZDICxkwL84NC9nBBTQCjEwsYWjcDZN7VIjP9DzvSHcmQPt_f7r18Rp-TrkFs4aYA6dK-0GzXwrf88gJXm70_7mL31FwCa0N_W3Q70GH1CIEvVROhLKCm81dyUrNFk5lCPHCoY7DFg004dRPMoviVdKr9

  • John Devereux12 months ago

    Tom's ashes are now back in England among family and friends.

Judey Kalchik Written by Judey Kalchik

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