In 1990, Tony and Betty purchased a company known as Piaf, which manufactured picture frame mouldings. They thought it would be a lighter medium than steel for Tony to work in but would still offer an outlet for his mechanical skills. Tony absolutely hated it, he could not stand the noise which he said was much worse than hitting a lump of steel with a hammer. It was with great relief and gratitude that Mark came to the rescue and took on the running of the business, which allowed Tony the opportunity to pursue the bell work.
Sadly most of Tony’s work will never be seen by the general public, but it will certainly be heard. Ringers, however, will always know where he has worked, as his trademark was a bell shaped rope spider which he made and presented to each church when a job was completed. He did of course make other things apart from bell fittings. There is a weather vane in the shape of a Suffolk Punch horse standing proudly on top of Dickleburgh tower and here in St. Mary’s church yard, a fine example of his metalwork stands facing the market place. He made the gates to commemorate the 700th anniversary of St. Mary’s church to a design created by Geoffrey Tebble.
It would be so easy to carry on talking about Tony’s work with the bells as each project brought new challenges to overcome but there was so much more to Tony’s life. He liked sport in all shapes and forms, both participating when he was young and latterly glued to the TV watching the Olympics and the six nations rugby matches. He loved the great outdoors and wildlife. He took great pleasure in identifying flowers, butterflies and birds while walking with the dogs. He had a particular interest in birds of prey and never considered he was on holiday until he had seen a buzzard circling overhead.
Dogs had always played an important part in his life and collies were his favourite breed. He always marvelled at their intelligence, sixth sense, loyalty and unconditional love. He referred to his present four, Sky, Kerry, Jodie and Summer as his “girls”, which confused the nurses at the hospital as they thought he was referring to four daughters when they felt sure he only had sons. He missed them terribly when he was away from them and when it became obvious that he was too ill to come home for Christmas they were allowed to visit him at the hospital on Christmas day. Walking with the dogs was his favourite pastime and Yorkshire was where he most liked to be. He valued the strong friendship with Jenny and Aubrey which had been forged through bells and walking and was eternally grateful to them for introducing him and Betty to Swaledale and the Moors. It was thoughts of these happy moments that helped to sustain him during his illness. His ashes will be scattered in his favourite spot above Gunnerside in Swaledale in March.
Tony’s story would not be complete without mentioning his pride and joy, his grandchildren. He loved them dearly and was so proud of all they have achieved. Kieran and Connor are now studying for their A levels and Aaron is attending City College on a construction industry course. Kieran and Aaron have also carried on the rugby tradition and are now the third generation of Baines boys to play for Diss. Connor has done really well in the army cadets and a career in the services beckons. Shaylen was his shining light and he called her his “guardian angel” for her loving and caring personality. Tony always marvelled at Billy’s reading and writing skills and proudly showed off the school magazine he produced which was so professional it is difficult to believe he is only 10. Molly, the youngest at 7, could never fail to put a smile on his face with her drawings and endless chatter. There is just one other little boy left to mention Joe, Carolyn’s son and not technically a grandson but it always felt as though he was, He shared with Tony the same natural affinity with animals and it was to him, Carolyn and Connor that Tony entrusted the care of his favourite puppy, Bracken. Tony could not have wished for a more loving family. He had special affection and admiration for his daughters-in-law, Sharna, Carolyn and Su for the way they are raising their children with a little bit of help from Mark and Kevin. He was a very proud father and grand father.
Tony’s passing will leave a very big gap in so many peoples lives but what a wonderful legacy he leaves behind. Hundreds of bells will continue to ring out across East Anglia thanks to his skills. For Betty, she was very lucky to have found the love of her life at such a young age giving her a lifetime of happy memories. For Mark, Kevin and the grandchildren, they only need to open the workshop door to smile and remember.