Published: 13:46, 16 June 2021
| Updated: 15:39, 16 June 2021
The sudden death of one of Canterbury's most popular and respected businessmen has devastated his family and deeply saddened his work colleagues and many friends.
Tony Pratt, who was chairman of The Canterbury Auction Galleries, died at home on Friday following a family celebration for his 66th birthday.
He was widely known and respected for his huge knowledge and passion for antiques, which had been a lifelong career, and his support for charities.
He leaves his wife Marianne, daughter Suzanne, son Anthony, and four grandchildren.
His passing was announced in a statement from Auction Galleries managing director Dave Parker, who said: “Tony’s death has stunned everyone who knew him.
“He was entirely dedicated to the business he took over in 1991 and in his memory, I and my fellow directors will continue to drive it forward in the manner Tony would have expected.”
Mr Pratt, who lived in Willesborough in Ashford, was well know for many associations across the city and features as the character of the Knight on the plinth of the statue of Geoffrey Chaucer in the city centre.
In an interview with KentOnline's sister paper the Kentish Gazette in 2012 about his life, Mr Pratt described his fascination for collecting things, like stamps and coins, from a very early age.
“My interest in antiques really grew as a young teenager after I did some work experience and started to visit various auction rooms,” he said.
“But the break came when I was offered a trainee’s job at the then Burrows and Day in Ashford.
“I would have earned more money at the garden centre but handed my notice in.
“It was the chance which really lit the blue touch paper for my career and eventually led to me owning my own auction house.”
"He was a true gentleman in every sense of the word and we will miss him terribly....”
Mr Pratt revealed that his biggest passions were early English furniture and antique clocks.
Over the years he helped raise tens of thousands of pounds for many good causes in the city and villages by holding charity valuation days, as well as sponsoring events like the Canterbury Festival.
Its deputy director Amanda McKean said: “Tony was a much loved and respected member of the Canterbury community who was passionate all things cultural and was a great supporter of many local organisations.
“He was a true champion of the work of the Canterbury Festival and through Tony, the Auction Galleries have sponsored our talks series since 2007 and became headline sponsor four years ago.
“He was also a valued member of the Festival Board and Foundation and always took time to chat to the team and offer his advice when needed. He was a true gentleman in every sense of the word and we will miss him terribly.”
A private funeral is being planned.