It is with deep regret that I announce the sad news of Tony’s passing.
In 2000, Tony and Gill came to North Perrott to live in Peel House with their daughter Natasha, who attended Perrott Hill School. They were valued members of our community until they left in 2013.
It would not be an overstatement to say that both Tony and Gill threw themselves into village life and the mark they left will be of benefit to our community for many years to come.
Tony was a diligent Parish Councillor during his tenure but perhaps his crowning glory was his service to the Village Hall committee, where he excelled with innovation and in successfully completing multiple grant forms. One notable anecdote was when he and the Chairman of the time, bussed in half the population of North Perrott to a SSDC meeting where he was going to present one of his larger grant applications (it was for the extension to the Village Hall). Tony had understood that the various grants would be voted on at the end of the presentations and he thought it a good idea to weigh the odds in North Perrott’s favour. It was a good application, well presented and surely would have been awarded anyway. However, it’s fair to say the other applicants were somewhat overwhelmed by his popularity at the ballot box! As a result, the extension to the village hall that now houses the extra storage space and the office was largely down to his initiative and the hard work of the committee at the time.
While Tony was a Parish Councillor, our Clerk left, so in true Lean style, Gill took on the job and was a very efficient and proactive Clerk until her retirement. Together they were active in all aspects of village life, especially if artistic flare was required. As well as creating his own art studio with potters wheel and kiln, Tony started running pottery courses and Gill got roped in when they turned into residential retreats. Tony and Gill were founding members of Art in the Barn (before it earned that name) and with Judith and Gordon Hall, held a very successful summer exhibition in the Manor Farm Barns, where of course he was a major exhibitor, along with Natasha, who must have inherited his talent. That event morphed into Art In the Barn and over the years has become a major fund raising event for the Village Hall.
At the annual village fete, Gill’s place was on the flower stall and for many years, Tony and I were a double act on the BBQ. Tony had retired as a practicing Doctor before he arrived in the village but I was always amused by his total lack of concern about the risk of under-cooked meat. The second year of our partnership, I introduced him to a digital meat thermometer, which as Tony remarked, significantly increased the length of our queue but I quietly glowed in the thought of the lives that I might have saved, not to mention his reputation as a retired MD!
A fact not widely known to many, Tony was an active member of the hastily organised 2nd Platoon, North Perrot Civil Defence Force (think “Dad’s Army”), that we formed at the height of the lead thefts from the roof of St.Martin’s Church. From memory, Tony, Bill Stevens, Cyril Golding and I were all given precise roles should the alarm go off on the church roof, no matter what time of day or night it occurred. Predictably, the first alarm was after 2am on a particularly wet and windy night. The alarm went off, phone calls were made and everyone drove to their respective positions in order to cut off any vagabond making a hasty escape from the village. Tony’s position was on the corner of Downclose Lane, where I was meant to join him. Bill and Cyril were to meet at Townsend, so we would have safety in pairs. As I drove down past the church to rendezvous with Tony, I could clearly see the outline of a person moving in the churchyard. So it was with great excitement and anticipation that I sped up the main road towards Downclose Lane. So quick was I driving that I almost hit Tony as he jumped out from behind his car into the middle of the road, the flash of his camera almost blinding me! When my night vision returned and no-one had driven out from either end of the village for over 10 minutes, the Police arrived. We proceeded to the Church in full confidence that an arrest would be made, only to find that my plans had not quite been followed to the letter. Being a retired policeman, all be it aged nearly 70, Cyril had taken it upon himself to go straight to the Church without back-up and leaving poor Bill alone at his station (evidently, we had a Corporal Jones in our ranks!). Rapidly backtracking on my enthusiasm and having to persuade the police officer to let his quarry go, it also sadly it turned out to be a false alarm. However, we must have been the “Shout” of the night because after the forth police car had arrived and even the milkman had stopped to find out what the commotion was about, we were all given a hearty pat on the back by the officers in attendance and congratulated for our efforts. Soon after that, Alison gave the order to strip the rest of the lead from the roof. There was never another alarm call and so the North Perrott Platoon drifted into obscurity. Regrettably, by the time the grant applications for funding a new roof had begun, Tony and Gill had moved closer to London to be nearer to their family. Otherwise, his grant filling skills would have been put to yet further use.
Tony and Gill made a lasting impression on the village and there is much left here to remember him by, especially at this time of year. Gill was largely responsible for planting the daffodils on the road at both ends of the village but I’m sure that planting them would have been a double act.
Gill says there will be a celebration of Tony’s life at some time in the future, the date yet to be decided.
Chairman, North Perrott Parish Council