South Tyneside brothers reunite with former Wimbledon ball boys

Brothers Sam Hill, Tom Hill and Bill Hill at Wimbledon.
Brothers Sam Hill, Tom Hill and Bill Hill at Wimbledon.

Winning Wimbledon may have been a family affair for Andy Murray - but it was also a get-together for three South Tyneside brothers.

Brothers Tom, Samuel and Bill Hill, who were ball boys at Wimbledon more than 50 years ago, were reunited with former colleagues at a special reunion.

Andy Murray with the trophy after winning the men's singles final against Milos Raonic at Wimbledon.

Andy Murray with the trophy after winning the men's singles final against Milos Raonic at Wimbledon.

The three travelled to London to meet up with former and serving ball boys at the Wimbledon grounds to mark the anniversary last month.

Tom Hill, 67, a retired welder fabricator, from Stonecroft, Washington, was delighted to have been invited to the occasion.

He said: “My brothers and I were in Barnardo’s children home in Derby Street, South Shields, which was the organisation which gave us the opportunity to be ball boys and arranged the reunion.

“I was with Barnardo’s for around 11 years as a child, and they took my brothers and I down south to a Barnardo’s home to learn a trade, and it was there we were able to volunteer to be ball boys at Wimbledon.

“The first Wimbledon competition I was at was in 1962, aged 13, and the last one I did was in 1965.

“Before we took part, all the ball boys had to undergo six weeks of training together after school two to three times a week before the event.”

Tom and his brothers Samuel, 69, who now lives in Watford, Bill, 68 who now lives in Dunstable, and George, who has sadly died but would have been 70, all took part in Wimbledon in the 1960s.

After the Wimbledon final on Sunday, Murray paid tribute to his family for their support, and Tom proved it was a family competition, saying he was honoured to volunteer alongside his own family.

He travelled down to Wimbledon to meet up with his brothers and around eight former ball boys from Barnardo’s on June 20.

He said: “Barnardo’s called me and said that Wimbledon have been in touch wanting to see if any ball boys from old times would like to meet up to mark their 50th anniversary.

“It was a great day. I met up with my brothers and the last of the Barnardo’s ball boys, and we were shown around the Wimbledon museum and watched the current ball boys and girls train. 
“When I saw the lads again it didn’t seem like it has been 50 years, it was like we had never been away.

“We were like a family back then, and I will always be grateful to Barnardo’s for giving me that opportunity.”