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His affair with India

Sir Anthony Hayward, whose surname is familiar to Indians, is on a visit to the city. He tells MINU ITTYIPE about the Raj days.



Sir Anthony Hayward and Lady Jenifer McCay with their children, their spouses and grandchildren before St. Paul's Cathedral, Calcutta on New Year's Day this year. The couple got married 50 years ago in this cathedral. Ahmed Ali took their wedding picture then. This picture was also taken by the very same Ahmed Ali.

THE NAME `Hayward' is synonymous with Indian beer and whiskey. But whose name is it? Recently Sir Anthony Hayward, whose family owned the Bengal Distilleries and lent their name to the liquors, was holidaying at the Brunton Boatyard, Kochi.

In an exclusive interview to The Hindu Metroplus, Sir Anthony Hayward who worked in Shaw Wallace for three decades and retired as its Chairman and Managing Director, recounts his stay in India. It all began... In January of 1947, five months after the Great Calcutta Killings, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was on a mission to unify the Hindus and Muslims. In the next few weeks he would walk through the Muslim dominated Naokhali villages to bring about peace and goodwill between the two communities. It was not the best of times to come to India and Calcutta in particular. Many an Englishman had been killed in the crossfire and Calcutta would see communal flare up for months to come.

But a young Sub- Lieutenant of the Royal Navy was braving it all. He was taking his first flight to Calcutta to see his father, whom he had not seen for seven long years. And a curious thing was about to happen. When the rest of the English were leaving the country en masse, this young man, Anthony Hayward would begin his romance with India and with a beautiful young lady named Jenifer McCay.In the spring of 1948, Sub-Lt. Anthony Hayward, who was at that time earning eleven shillings per day in the Royal Navy, was demobilised. In other words he left the Navy. His father Eric Hayward, Partner of Bengal Distilleries, was quick to offer him a job. He offered him 37 pounds and 10 shillings per month.

"Not a big amount. But in those days one lived cheaply," says Sir Anthony Hayward. It was a time when gin cost two shillings a bottle and whiskey was six shillings a bottle. And one pound was equivalent to Rs.13.3. So Anthony Hayward joined the family business and lived with his parents, brother and brother-in-law in a huge mansion in pucca Indian style- the undivided family.He began at the bottom of the company in the Vat house where the grape mixture was left to ferment. Anthony Hayward learnt the ropes quickly and moved up the ladder. In 1953 he met Jenifer McCay whose father was a doctor in Calcutta. In January of 1955 the sweethearts got married in St. Paul's Cathedral in Calcutta. A photographer named Ahmed Ali took the wedding photographs.

"And we lived happily ever after," says Sir Anthony Hayward. In 1958 Bengal Distilleries was sold to Shaw Wallace and Company. Meanwhile Anthony Hayward and Jenifer had four children. From 1970 to 1978 Anthony Hayward became the Chairman and Managing Director. He was the last of the Englishmen to leave the company. In 1978 he retired and in the same year, he was knighted by the Queen of England for services to the British Commercial Interests and the British community in India. This year saw Sir Anthony and Jenifer Hayward, their four children, their spouses and grandchildren back in India for a holiday. On New Year's Day, they went to St. Paul's Cathedral for the fiftieth anniversary service and the same photographer Ahmed Ali, re-surfaced to photograph them again. "It is my friends that I miss most in India," says Sir Anthony Hayward. "And I come back to India to be with them. In the last ten years the progress has been enormous- today in India everyone seems to have a cell phone whereas in the sixties it would take 12 hours to book an ordinary trunk call."Even after his retirement, Sir Anthony Hayward continued to work with the Guthries Trading House and PICA in Singapore but today he is leading a quiet retired life as a doting grandfather. He quietly points out, "Old soldiers never die, they only fade away."

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