It is with great sadness that the Association reports that Tony Baines passed away on the 22 January 2013. The Association’s deepest condolences are extended to his family.
Below, with kind permission of his widow, Betty, is the eulogy that was read at his funeral.
Tony was born in Bootle, Liverpool on his father’s birthday. He was the middle one of three children and enjoyed a happy childhood growing up with his sisters Carolyn and Wendy. They learned about early mornings and hard work from a very young age as they were enlisted to help with the family dairy business, delivering milk before going to school and serving in the “open all hours” corner shop. He was educated at Blairgowrie Preparatory School, Alsops High School and Bootle Grammar. He openly admitted that he was not happy at school and did not do very well only achieving one O level in woodwork. His parents Ted and Irene, dreamed of “escaping to the country” for a better life for their family and encouraged Tony to seek a career in farming. In those days it was not possible to go straight to Agricultural College from school. It was therefore necessary for him to do a years practical on a farm beforehand. The farm that was chosen was Latchetts Farm, Danehill in Sussex, which was run by the Butler family. Here he gained the necessary experience in livestock and arable farming and caught the eye of the farmers 9 year old daughter, though probably more as a target for her water pistol than anything romantic.
After a year at Rease Heath Agricultural College in Cheshire, Tony and his family moved to The Mill House at Bressingham. Before leaving Liverpool all their furniture and belongings had been put into store until the house was ready but disaster struck, the store burned down taking away everything they owned. All they had were the clothes they stood up in and the vehicles they drove. Tony’s car was known as “Bitza”, he had built it with bits of this and bits of that! Wendy travelled with Tony on their journey from Liverpool to Norfolk and recalled disturbing the peace in the then quiet town of Thetford when the Big End went.
For a while Tony worked on the smallholding at Bressingham but money was tight and it became necessary for him and his dad to take part time jobs repairing bikes at Cobbs Cycle Shop in St. Nicholas Street, Diss. Tony enjoyed an active social life, being a member of the Young Farmers, played rugby for Diss Rugby Club and was the Chairman of the Young Conservatives. It was while attending a Young Conservatives meeting in London that he made a brief visit back to Sussex, a visit that was prompted by a report in the daily newspapers that Betty had been involved in a very serious riding accident. By now Betty had grown up, love blossomed and as they say the rest is history.
Tony moved back to Sussex in January 1963 at the height of the really bad snow storms and had long walks to and from the railway stations as the roads were impassable. He worked on the family farm, doing everything from milking cows to driving the combines. He soon found though, that he had a natural gift for repairing and servicing the equipment. By this time Betty was a well established ringer and soon persuaded Tony to try his hand. She taught him on Sunday afternoons in between lowering each bell, which had been left up after service ringing in the morning. This, as you can imagine took quite a time and Tony was progressing very well, but it all came to an abrupt end when a very red faced vicar appeared at the door, demanding them to stop as unbeknown to Betty and Tony there was a service going on down below. They were duly banned from ringing there for several months.
Betty and Tony were married at All Saints church, Danehill on 18th September, 1965 at the end of a particularly wet summer, when it was necessary to follow the combine with a tractor and winch. However on the day of the wedding the sun shone and continued to shine for their fortnights honeymoon on the Isle of Anglesey. They were later blessed with 2 lovely sons, Mark in 1967 and Kevin in 1969.