The Collection of Medals to the Wiltshire Regiment formed by the late Michael Hayward

The Collection of Medals to the Wiltshire Regiment formed by the late Michael Hayward

Michael ‘Mike’ Hayward (1946 - 2010)

The circumstances in which Mike Hayward and I met for the first time were those which many medal collectors will recognise with a sinking heart and were not necessarily conducive to friendship. For years I had been looking for a campaign medal to a Wiltshire Regiment man whose Army Long Service and Good Conduct Medal I possessed when a chance conversation with a dealer revealed that he had recently sold it to another collector. Quite reasonably, the dealer declined to give me the name of this rival but agreed to pass on a letter which I duly wrote. A couple of weeks later my telephone rang and Mike introduced himself in a soft Wiltshire burr.

We eventually discovered that there was also another group of medals and associated memorabilia of which I had one half and he had the other. Common sense and a strong mutual feeling that both should be reunited prevailed and each of us ended up with one complete lot of medals. Not only had we done the right thing as far as preserving these men’s memory was concerned but it was the start of  other valuable collaboration. We exchanged research and books and copied photographs for one another. The awkwardness of that first phone call became a distant memory.

It was not surprising that Mike chose to collect to the Wiltshire Regiment, for he was a Wiltshireman to his fingertips. Born in Swindon, he was an apprentice in the railway works for which the town was famous. He then joined the P&O Line and spent seven years as an engineer on its cruise liners, including the Canberra. It was probably his time at sea that led him to collect medals to the Royal Navy before he began to specialise in the regiment of his home county. He then left the Merchant Navy and came back to Swindon, where he worked for a pharmaceutical company until his retirement in 2003. It gave him more time to research his medal collection and he was one of the most meticulous researchers that I have ever encountered. Married with one son, he was quite simply one of the nice guys of the medal world.

Will Bennett