A New Beginning

Welcome to a brand new Terminally Tough Blog!

After our big re-brand, I thought it would be a great idea for our new and existing readers to get to know me better on a more personal level. That is why I have decided to take on the fifty point “write your personal history” challenge.

Point one: Your Name. Where did it come from? What does it mean?

My name is Willow Thames Lennard. My first name was chosen by my parents, my middle name was chosen by my sister and of course my last name is mine and my husband’s family name. However, my birth name was Willow Thames Day and after my parents separated and divorced, my surname was changed by deed poll to my mother’s maiden name, making my then legal name, Willow Thames Smith. Smith is also the surname of both sets of my grandparents, so at the time it felt quite fitting.

My Name Origin

When my mother was pregnant with me, my parents sat down to discuss names. Originally, my sister was asked what she would like to name me and being only seven years old, she wanted my name to be special and relate to hers. My sisters name is that of a river, hence why she wanted to call me Thames, after the River Thames in London. My parents thought it may be a little cruel to have that as my first name but agreed that it could be my middle name. From that moment on they had something to inspire them and were trying to find something that meshed well with Thames.

My mother had a friend who had not long also had a baby, the baby had been named Cricket. My dad suggested ‘Willow’, knowing that cricket bats were made from willow wood. Willow trees grow on the riverbank of the River Thames, in a beautiful town in Surrey and the two just seemed to work. From that moment on, I was Willow Thames.

Twenty seven years ago, ‘Willow’ was an extremely unusual name and not everyone liked my parents’ choice. But in true rebellious style, my parents named both my sister and I with unusual names that no one ever forgets. These days, ‘Willow’ is a popular choice as unusual names are fashionable. I believe between 2018/2019, ‘Willow’ was in the top ten baby girl names for the year in the UK.

Define: ‘Willow’


a tree or shrub of temperate climates which typically has narrow leaves, bears catkins, and grows near water. Its pliant branches yield osiers for basketry, and the timber is traditionally used to make cricket bats.

- Oxford Languages

Define: ‘Thames’


a river in the South of England, flowing through the City of London to the North Sea. It is 209 miles long.

- Dictionary.com

In 2016 my husband Anthony and I visited the Isle of Wight on our first holiday together. At the time, Anthony knew very little about his family history and didn’t show much interest in learning about it. I However, adore all things historical and genealogy, so when visiting a historical railway, we were given the opportunity to trace the history of his family name, Lennard. It was absolutely fascinating, we both learned so much and even bought a certified document with the information about the origin of his family name to frame and hang in our house. It was absolutely one of the highlights of the holiday for me.

I feel a great sense of pride in having an unusual name and since becoming a ‘Lennard’, I feel that I have finally found my identity. For me, my name is something that truly reflects my personality and character, I have thoroughly enjoyed researching it as part of the “write your personal history” challenge. It has felt like the perfect place to start.

Keep an eye out for the next instalment, Point Two: When and where were you born?