Londoner finds Beaufort is a perfect fit for him

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Londoner finds Beaufort is a perfect fit for him

By KELLY WILL
Published Monday, November 29, 2010   |  1045 Words  |  

Tom Savage was born in London in the early 1980s in the house that his parents still live in, but today, Savage lives in downtown Beaufort. The Brit is new in town, working for the next few years as a teacher at Beaufort Academy, coaching soccer and enjoying the homemade pot roast at the Fillin' Station.

Savage was born at home in North London, in Whetstone, 20 minutes from the heart of the city. He has two older brothers and one sister, and his tight-knit family enjoyed living so close to London but being an easy drive to the countryside.

"I spent all of my summers camping in France with my parents," Savage said. "We would pack up the car, get on the ferry and drive into France. There was very little structure, and we would camp, go canoeing, spend days on the beach -- it was relaxed.

"I was in the scouts, too. We had a mixed troop, so there were girls, as well, and we would go hiking around Germany and Austria. When I was 16, I started going away to Spain and Greece with friends for the summers."

Soccer became Savage's favorite activity by age 7, and weekends in London were filled with Saturday soccer games while he trained at least two days a week. From age 11 to 18 he traveled to school on a 45-minute bus ride into the country each day. Savage attended the popular Dame Alice Owens School and dove right into extracurricular activities.

"I was deputy head boy, which is the equivalent of class president," Savage said. "I managed lunch duties and supervised my peers during their duties. It was out in the woods with a lake, and we had at least seven soccer fields, and there were rugby and cricket pitches."

Savage had visited the United States every couple of years from his early teens on and liked the American lifestyle on his very first visit.

"I felt drawn to the States. I grew up on American television like 'My So Called Life' and 'Saved By the Bell,'" he said. "I would come home to England with American fashions, like wearing your backpack on both shoulders. I am not sure I am responsible for the whole of London wearing them that way, but everyone did seem to start doing it after I started wearing it that way."

COLLEGE VISIT

He attended the University of Hull outside of London and did a one-year exchange program in 2006 at Northern Arizona University. At Hull, Savage played left midfielder on the soccer team but had to get creative to play soccer in Arizona.

"When I arrived in Arizona, I realized they didn't even have a soccer team," Savage said, "so I created an intramural team, and we ended up winning the whole league, beating every team."

He also had a music and talk radio show with a friend and ended up getting his American college experience. "It was always a dream of mine to go to school here."

After graduating, Savage went to work for a travel firm. He found that he enjoyed meeting people from all over the world but did not thrive on the sales aspect of the job, so he took a job as a behavior coach -- similar to a guidance counselor -- at a local high school.

"It was the best job I ever had in my life," he said. "It was an open role, and I spent my time walking around talking to students, visiting their homes and dragging them in to school if they didn't show up. Eventually they offered me a spot to get on the job teacher training for a year."

One of his brothers lives just outside of Virginia Beach, Va., and after four years out of school and working in London, Savage was ready for a change. He says Bill Dalton, who teaches U.S. History and English at Beaufort Academy and is the Eagles' former soccer coach, is responsible for bringing him to the Lowcountry.

The two met when Savage was in college, and when he decided to go into teaching, Dalton kept in touch and kept the door open to get him to live in the United States and work at Beaufort Academy. Savage will also coach soccer at the school.

SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY

Dalton loves to tease Savage, but the two bonded immediately.

"We met in New Hampshire, and he was working with one of my children," Dalton said. "I am a major Anglophile and have been my whole life, so I'm naturally inclined to like the Brits."

Dalton believes Savage's best trait is his natural ability to understand people.

"Tom has a great capacity to get along with people from all different walks of life, ages, cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds. He is well-rounded and well-read with a great sense of humor."

Dalton remembers watching the 2006 World Cup with Savage when England lost to Portugal. "Tom was just so appreciative and thankful that I watched with him and was such a fan for England. He is a great guy."

Savage is eager to partake in all the outdoor activities South Carolina offers.

"London is wonderful and full of culture, history, restaurants and nightlife, but the weather is terrible," he said. "I like the outdoors, and Beaufort has so much to offer in that sense."

He's also taken to Southern hospitality. Beaufort's residents have offered him much of his home dècor. In his first week, he was loaned a bed, a car, a tennis racket and a sofa. "Basically everything I needed was provided by the community."

The London native was quick to make Beaufort home. He spends a lot of time at the Fillin' Station, where he says the pot roast reminds him of his mother's.

"I love riding my bike downtown, and I am never happier than when I'm on that big orange beach cruiser," Savage said.

"This is a great town."