VICTOR SELWYN HAMMOND: 7th May 1945 - 24th April 2013.
Born at 21 Tadmor Street in Shepherds Bush on VE day 1945, Vic grew up, married and raised a family in the same house, living in "The Bush" until 2001 when he moved to Ickenham. He joined the Film industry as a driver in 1968 working for Burnells in Stonebridge Park and became a member of NATTKE that same year, his first job was driving the crew Mini-Bus on 'Randall & Hopkirk Deceased'. He then went on to work for Ranks, but they closed shortly after he arrived, so he decided to go freelance, and along with Dennis Balkin bought a camera car. In 1976 he got his break as a Grip with Teddy Tucker (Key Grip) on "The Eagle Has Landed", directed by John Sturgess and photographed by Tony Richmond. Tony and Ted then asked Vic to work with them again on "Silver Bears" the following year.
From then on Vic never looked back and went on to work all over the world on major motion pictures & commercials. Two assignments took him to South America as Key Grip, first on Stanley Dolan's 'Blame it on Rio', and then on John Borman's 'Emerald Forest'. He is famously mentioned in the book on the making of Emerald Forest in a quote by the author beginning, "The Grip returns to England, I dont know why"?. Vic said that if he had asked him why, he would have told him to his face! His exploits around the industry over the last four decades are legion, and he was to all who knew him a legend in his own lifetime. As well as being an Ace Grip, he was a raconteur second to none, could hold an audience for hours on end and, tell a joke that would dissolve en masse into fits of uncontrollable laughter the entire cast & crew.
Apart from his career as a grip he also had a passion for Drag racing which began as a young man and continued throughout his life. In 1972 he built his first Dragster and raced as "Mr Big", then "Cockney Rebel", he won many races over the years. He survived unscathed when Cockney Rebel turned over at 170 mph. walking away to the medical centre to be checked over. When he arrived the nurse said to him, "I cant deal with you now there has been a terrible accident on the track and there could be a fatality", Vic informed her that it was him who was driving the car that had just crashed, so she asked him to lay on the bed. After an absence of several years from the sport he was told by his racing buddy Sammy Freeman that there was a Dragster for sale in America and so the two of them went over to the states and Vic purchased the "Speed Demon" car in 2008. Vic's team went on to race the car at Long Marston in Warwickshire, in the 'Super Charged Outlaws' class, coming third in 2009/10, 2nd in 2011, and winning the championship in 2012. During those final four years "Speed Demon" held the top speed record every year, retaining the fastest speed Trophy, then making it a treble by being awarded the "Spirit of the Super Charged Outlaws" Trophy. Had he not succumbed to his illness he would have continued racing in 2013.
Throughout his career Vic was a dedicated union member, seeing the transition from Nattke to Beta and then Bectu. He was one of several grips who led negotiations when the Grips requested their own Branch, moving away from the General Craft grades to form the Grips Branch in 1985. He sat on the committee and went on to become Vice Chairman, he lobbied to include Crane Technicians within the branch, and was also a key player when Bectu agreed to support our motion to become the 'Certified Grips & Crane Technicians Branch' in 2012, which stipulated that every member must hold their respective NVQ qualifications before they could transfer into the branch. He was also instrumental in organising our Grips Benevolent fund when it was agreed that we needed to lookout for those members who might need a helping hand occasionally.
In 2004 Vic trained to become a City & Guilds Assessor when the Grips qualifications were re-launched to include Crane Techs. Skillset had asked for names to be put forward and Vic once again stepped up to the plate. After he was awarded his A1 Assessors certificate, he put all his energy into delivering the qualifications and raising the standards of excellence throughout the grade. He was a first class teacher and helped organise and hold Masterclasses for grips, while continuing with a busy career working in film. Through his love of movies and his dedication to his job he became a great ambassador in promoting the grips qualifications and their skills throughout the film industry.
In February 2010 Vic was diagnosed with Liver cancer, he faced the challenge to come head-on with great courage and resolve, and a determination that it would not beat him. He was still working this year on Warner Bros production of "All You Need Is Kill" with Tom Cruise, Vic driving an open tracking vehicle in sub zero temperatures while at the same time keeping up the spirits of all the crew. Sadly after a three year fight which most people could not have endured and a long battle towards the end it finally got the better of him. It was a fitting tribute to the man that almost 700 people from all walks of life attended his funeral. Technicians from every grade within the industry, including producers, directors, the drag racing community and his old friends, neighbours and associates from Shepherds Bush, all came to say farewell to the man they loved and respected in equal measure. Those that knew Vic well were not surprised when at the end of the service he had chosen to go out to the sound of Jerry Lee Lewis singing "Great Balls Of Fire". The minister said there was a first time for everything, which was always true with Vic. Everyone left the chapel in tears, but the saddness had been tempered with a smile because his wonderful sense of humour was there for all to share until the very end.
Vic was a man of great integrity, one of the old school who cared about people. He will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him. On a personal note he was a loyal friend, who also help launch my career as a Grip, I too never looked back. He was above all else a dedicated family man, a loving husband, father and grandfather. Our condolences go to his wife Freda, daughters Kelly & Vikki, and his three grandsons, Harley, Louis & Luca. They will all continue to be surrounded by his friends for many years to come. Gone but never forgotten, the inimitable Victor Selwyn Hammond. R.I.P.
Tony Rowland ( Certified Grips & Crane Techs Branch)