Published: 15:23, 22 November 2021
| Updated: 16:59, 22 November 2021
The former owner of a baking empire who saved “hundreds of lives” in his role as a volunteer first responder has died, aged 75.
But the “very caring” father-of-three is also well-remembered for the decade he spent volunteering for the ambulance service, providing emergency care to people across Faversham.
Born in Wales, Tony grew up in Surrey, where he started his first Saturday job at a bakery at the age of 14.
He met his future wife, Maureen, before moving to Kent, where the couple had three children.
They lived first in Canterbury, where Tony put his baking apprenticeship to use at Burgate Restaurant.
In 1970, he launched his very first bakery - Burgate Bakery in Whitstable Road, Faversham.
The business was a huge success, and Tony soon expanded his empire to a total of six shops - with two in Faversham and others in Canterbury, Herne Bay, Hawkinge and Bridge.
Speaking to this paper in 2015, Tony said he “thoroughly enjoyed” his career as a baker.
“I loved meeting all the customers and I loved making something out of nothing,” he said. “With just a bit of flour and water you can make an endless amount of things.”
Tony sold his business and retired in 2007, but his eldest son Gary later bought the Whitstable Road shop which he still runs as Fillers.
In 2009, he saw South East Coast Ambulance Service (Secamb) was advertising for volunteer community first responders and quickly signed up.
He became the town’s first CFR, and was team leader for 10 years as the group grew.
“We are usually dealing with cardiac arrests, strokes or diabetic attacks,” he explained in 2015.
“We get there before the arrival of the paramedic and can offer life-saving treatment, such as the use of the defibrillator, which can make all the difference to someone. I feel very responsible to the community.
“It’s a busy role - I am called out pretty much every day to incidents.
“As I’m retired, I can get to patients pretty quickly and I’m almost always available.
“I really enjoy it and it’s incredibly rewarding, especially if someone greets me in the street after I’ve helped them.”
Charity work was a huge part of Tony’s life.
He was formerly chair of trustees at Age UK Faversham and Sittingbourne, and a trustee at the Fynvola Foundation and Faversham Sea Cadets.
He was also a member of the Rotary Club for more than 30 years, through which he helped provide Faversham with 17 public defibrillators.
But despite his busy life as a volunteer, Tony’s children remember him as a devoted family man.
“He always wanted the best for us, and made sure that’s what we had,” said Gary. “He was very caring; a fine man, and he looked after everyone else.”
Son Neil added: “He always found time for us, regardless of what else he was doing.”
About five years ago, Tony was diagnosed with myositis - a rare muscle wasting condition that affected his mobility and led him to step down as a CFR. But he continued volunteering as a fundraiser and at demonstrations.
Tony was admitted to the William Harvey Hospital this month with a chest infection, but sadly contracted Covid during his stay, he died on November 8.
CFR Faversham team leader Carol Lewis paid tribute to him as a “legend, our hero, our leader, our friend”.
“Tony volunteered thousands of hours supporting Secamb, saving hundreds of lives,” she said. “He was like a father to us all and we will all miss him terribly.”
Tony leaves behind his wife, his children Gary, Neil and Adele, and six grandchildren.
His funeral will take place at Charing Crematorium at 1pm on Monday, November 29.
His family ask anyone wishing to make a donation in Tony’s memory to do so to Myositis UK.