I want to express my heartfelt thanks and gratitude to all of our family and friends for the overwhelming outpouring of love and support shown since we lost Tony.
It has been extraordinary and heartwarming to see how loved and special he was to everyone. Each story shared will help keep Tony alive in our hearts and memories.
It may surprise you to know how I struggled to find the words to express and define all our years together and what he meant to me. I think this poem introduces this best.
THE MEASURE OF A MAN
Not – How did he die? But – How did he live? Not – What did he gain? But – What did he give?
These are the things that measure the worth of a man as a man, regardless of birth.
Not -What was his station? But – had he a heart? And -How did he play his God- given part?
Was he ever ready with a word of good cheer? To bring back a smile, to banish a tear?
Not – What was his church? Not – What was his creed? But- Had he befriended those really in need?
Not -What did the sketch in the newspaper say? But -How many were sorry when he passed away?
These are the things that measure the worth of a man as a man, regardless of birth.
This is the measure of Tony.
A man I met 25 years ago whose radiant smile and cheek was so infectious that you couldn’t help but be drawn by him.
An open book : genuine, honest, generous- he gave so much, what you saw was what you got.
A northern diamond with a beautiful soul.
How could you resist. We became inseparable and shared so many wonderful adventures and experiences as a pair living, working and partying on the Manchester scene in those early years and in recent years enjoying family life in Cornwall. We were always Billie and Tony from the day we met.
Tony had many special qualities.
In particular he loved life and people. He had a natural ability to put everyone he met at ease with his huge welcoming smile and cheeky one liners. Popular, he could adapt into any social situation and he had time for everyone to make them feel special be it children, friends, visitors or strangers in the street. He loved to banter and did so with everyone he met. Everyone loved Tony.
He accepted people exactly as they were and was never phased by anyone. Even when I took him home and introduced him to my mum who always spoke to him in Chinese as if he understood and forced him to eat her strange dinners such as chicken feet and stewed soup- he never blinked an eyelid, sitting down every time to eat like a native to the delight of my parents and talking back to them in conversational English as if he understood what was being said to him, this continued for 25 years.
He was so at home in this setting that once when asked by my mum in her pigeon english whether he liked the soup she had made , he told her straight with his cheekiest smile, that ‘No……. it looked and tasted like dishwater’. My mum was so charmed by him that even she had to laugh. (because truth be known…. It really did!)
Always the life and soul of a party, it’s fair to say that Tony loved social events and planning his next big adventure, hobby or experience . An early riser of 5 am, he couldn’t sit still when there was so much life to enjoy in addition to work and family.
He enjoyed dog walking, football, sport, cycling, fishing, fitness, surfing, birdwatching ( well that was until he realised you had to sit really still!) and drinking – of which it’s fair to say he seemed to enjoy the most. Interesting how many of his work meetings and /or social experiences were done over a couple of cheeky beers! His definition of ‘ couple’ generally meant double figures.
Tony’s other big passion shared by myself was food and wine. Over the years he became a fantastic cook and could create not only culinary feasts, but an utter bombsite in the kitchen which were not so tasty. Many of our social interactions with friends have centred around meals.
Our days would often begin with the question ‘What shall we have for tea tonight? It’s fair to say he was responsible for our lockdown lard.
Living with Tony was never dull. While everyone knew him as Tony, the teacher in me always addressed him as Antony, to the amusement of our friends who said it sounded like I was telling off a naughty schoolboy…… which in fairness he usually was. He had a wicked sense of humour and was always up to some prank or another or winding someone up.
In the early years I remember the surprise on his work colleagues face when they first met me as he had told them that his partner Billie was a man! He found their reaction hilarious.
When we moved to Cornwall, I would often wake to the sound of raucous laughing from our neighbours outside over something Tony had said or done. On one occasion at Christmas, Tony decided to create his own personalised Christmas card by posing in a green mankini, with a stuffed Rudolph toy precariously placed over his erm ………north pole , while perched over the bonnet of his sports car outside. How he thought anyone would want to receive that as an image at Christmas is beyond me!
Getting his kit off was generally a theme for Tony’s humour. Last year when we moved into our new house and I was concerned about how private the garden was, I came down to find him naked running around the garden saying that yes he thought the garden was private and if it wasn’t it would be now as that would surely scare off any neighbours.
Tony was so many different things to different people: a friend, a team mate, a training partner, a son, a brother, an uncle, a talented architect, a naughty partner in crime on a night out.
To us, he was a brilliant husband and father. This is what defined him – his family. The values of family and love instilled in him as a child by his own family were clear and I thank them for this. He couldn’t do enough for us – his girls. He always made sure we had his time and love above anything else.
He absolutely doted on his daughters and as babies carried them everywhere to show off on his shoulders. Even when they grew too big they wanted to go on daddy’s shoulders and he let them. In fact I’m surprised they even learnt to walk at all.
Tony’s sense of fun combined with his love of being a dad gave him purpose to give his daughters the best experiences and adventures to enrich their lives- he wanted them to feel joy in everything like he did.
We had numerous family days out, holidays and shared experiences of which many were had in the family camper van. He just wanted to make them happy and went out of his way to do this.
Many a time he would take the girls on visits or on shopping trips and waited patiently for hours outside without grumbling.
When his daughters had friends over for play dates he embraced them and often planned an itinerary of fun activities including pizza making and silly games so they weren’t bored.
Often the biggest child in the house I would also catch him chuckling as he amused himself by playing tricks on Eva’s friends, such as swapping all the laces on their trainers to muddle up their shoes or setting the alarm in her room for 6.a.m during sleepovers to play ‘Wake me up before you go go’ at full pelt.
Tony was exceptionally generous and highly considerate, when birthdays and Christmas came, he would spend ages thinking of the perfect present for everyone. These were often extravagant such as planned trips away but included highly personalised gifts which he thought would bring pleasure and use to us. We may not always have wanted some of his choices but his desire to inject enjoyment and fun generally meant his presents were spot on. Why get a doll for your young daughter when you could have a nerf gun and so much more interactive fun?
What to get your wife when she’s always cold but 2 axes to enable her to cut her own wood for the woodburner. He was particularly pleased with this one as I had the option of a long handled axe for big chops and a short handle one if I found the former difficult! Useful indeed.
Living in a house full of girls. Tony put himself at the bottom of the pecking order. But the bottom was what held us up. He was the foundation on which we built our lives. He did everything for us to make us happy. School runs, cooking, finances, organising events, taxiing and life problems were dealt with at ease, he shielded me from worry.
Tony was my rock, always solid and dependable, when I got upset he stayed calm, when I wasn’t sure what to to do, he worked it out, when I became frustrated ( often by technology) he sorted it. It was an experience of being utterly supported and loved. He was dedicated to us in every way.
I know how lucky I have been to have had 25 years with such an amazing man by my side. Tony was my soulmate. To say I will miss him is a huge understatement.
We are heartbroken and devastated without the joy of Tony in our lives. We will mourn the loss of the next 25 years and our entire future without him.
At this moment the light has dimmed for us and as dark and sad as our loss is, I am grateful for our life together, that he chose me as his wife and shared his life, love, energy and joy with me, that he gave me the 2 most precious fantastic girls.
Whilst Tony has been laid to rest, his spirit, soul and amazing ability to give is still clear. It lives on in the stories people share about how he touched their lives, in the love of family and friends, in the spirit and resilience of our girls.
Our world has changed beyond recognition and he would tell me in his no nonsense voice to ‘put on my big boy pants and carry on’. To have adventures with the girls, smile and enjoy your life like there’s no tomorrow.
Remember Tony as you knew him: a man full of life, fun and laughter.
Until we meet again. Goodbye my handsome, kind, loving funny man.
Your absence is ever present, we miss and love you so deeply every day.
‘Shine bright like a diamond’ and with mischief wherever you are.
He was indeed Tony or Antony, but to me he was ‘our kid’. A proud Mancunian. We hadn’t realised that ‘our kid’, meaning brother or sister, was a particular northern saying until we went to university. We would usually just introduce each other to friends as ‘our kid’ and it didn’t seem important to follow it up with our actual names. Many of my friends just learnt to call him ‘our kid’ too and never used his real name.
He was 3 and a half years older than me and when we were little he always made sure I acknowledged that extra half year of seniority. When mum was expecting me Antony told them he would be happy with a brother or a dog – he got a sister. Apparently he quickly got over the initial disappointment with the timely arrival of his beloved dog Judy, and he set to work shaping me into the playmate he had hoped for. I was the lieutenant to his General and followed him into whatever master plan he had devised. He was always stronger, faster, smarter and I felt I had a lot to live up to. He was my cool big brother and I always wanted to spend time with him. Of course. I was often the annoying little sister always hanging around.
From an early age he never sat still, always on the go. He loved to just play out. If he had his bike, his dog and a football he was generally a happy boy.
Childhood was stable, secure and full of love and family time. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins were always around and our small family was very close. Camping holidays to Cornwall or Wales were always amongst the favourite and hours were spent playing cricket on the beach, rock-pooling and throwing ourselves down sand dunes.
Our parents gave us a strong sense of right and wrong and taught us to work hard and take people as we found them. Antony lived by this his whole life and it came easily to him. Although he loved to push boundaries and bend the rules often just for fun, doing the right thing when it came to people came very easily to him. He accepted everybody, and, everyone accepted him. He had a natural awareness of the needs of others and would help anyone out. Last week I heard a lovely story from his friend Jim from a time they had gone to a football match together. some of you may have seen it on Facebook but I wanted to share it today. Jim wrote…
We went to see Bolton play Spurs 20yrs ago. Getting off the train at the Reebok with hundreds of supporters we saw a lad with a white stick left stood by himself on the platform. Tony walked back over the bridge to the platform put the fella’s hand on his shoulder and asked him where he was going. We took him to a pub at the Reebok to meet his pals – I think we had a drink with him too. There must have been 300 people got off that train and only one of them went back to help.
His lifelong love of football started when he was small. Following in his father’s footsteps he aligned himself with the mighty Bolton Wanderers. This must have been a tough gig at school when the rest of manchester was split between United or City. He was 18 months old when he was first taken to watch 3rd division Bolton sitting up high on dad’s shoulders. From then on his allegiance remained strong. One of the football highlights was always the Boxing Day or New Year’s Day match. Even after the move to Cornwall this was a festive tradition he was keen to introduce the kids to. As Christmas planning priorities went it came high on his list – after discussing the most important issue – what meat are we having? The next question would be who’s coming to the Bolton game. He tried so hard to convert his nephew Jacob to be a fully fledged wanderers fan, but it still remains a tough gig.
Antony left school at 16 as he was keen to get out there and earn some money. He was taken on by Salford City council as a trainee architectural technician and studied as day release to get his qualifications. He went from schoolboy to a working man seemingly overnight. In a short space of time he seemed so grown up and mature. I had a new found admiration for him especially when aged 19 or 20 he decided to set up his own little company to take on extra work. Having a company name meant he could get a Makro card – Makro was the local wholesalers and he was so proud to have that card, he was on his way in life. His company name was BTB Design and I clearly remember the grin on his face when I asked him what the BTB stood for – Big Time Billy
He was 21 when he went to University and we were lucky to embark on that adventure together. He was initially a bit wary as he thought he would be older than the others on his course and wasn’t sure how things would work out . It was a relief to him to find he wasn’t the only mature student there and he never looked back – I am obviously using the word mature in its loosest sense here. Antony flourished during his uni years and you’ll appreciate that many stories are not suitable to share today. Suffice to say he gave it his all, embraced the opportunities and made so many lifelong friends. It was also here that he met the gorgeous Billie, the love of his life. It was clear from very early on that they were the ideal match and he was pretty smitten. With a shared a love of banter which was a pleasure to be around, they complemented each other in so many ways and Billie became a big and very welcome part of our family
Antony loved adventure, he would say yes to any invitation and then work out the logistics at a later date. Often he didn’t even need the invitation but would seek out an opportunity for a good time. I remember when I was travelling years ago and he found out I would be in South America on my own. Within a week he had hatched a plan to join me along with our good friend Steve and we spent an eventful couple of weeks exploring in Peru. He would throw himself wholeheartedly into every situation and usually came up trumps. His grasp of Spanish vocab at the time was pretty slim and he was convinced that if he just put an o at the end of every word it just became more Spanish. Of course this led to a bemused look of the face of most locals we met until one day he hit bingo as he tried to buy some elastic on a local market – elastico was indeed what we were looking for and he was delighted he’d been right all along
As we all know, he had an innate ability to make everything more fun. His quick witted, dry sense of humour and infectious laugh was so easy to be around. He was never too proud to make a fool of himself and he encouraged us all along for the ride. Even as he got older his sense of fun and silliness never waned, he could lighten the mood of any situation and make everyone part of the gang.
Family was everything to Antony. He was in his element being dad to Eva and Maya. They were the sparkle in his eyes and are both alike him in so many ways. Although it was a big wrench for us all when they came to Cornwall it was the best move they could have made. He treasured the times we could get the whole family together and always had a packed itinerary planned. He also had a fondness for a special welcome whenever we arrived in Cornwall. After 6 long hours in the car with an impatient and excited brood, it was always a pleasure to be greeted on the doorstep with full on water pistol attack, or less so the time he greeted us wearing nothing but his lime green mankini
I have so many happy memories which I’ll take with me moving on. But today I’ll just say thank you, and goodbye for now our kid.
Firstly can I just say thank you all for being here on this sad day. It’s a shame only 30 of us are allowed in – I know it would be packed to the rafters otherwise.
My deepest sympathies to Billie, Eva and Maya, Martyn and Marjorie, Jo and Fraser, Amelie, Jacob and Elsie. A huge loss for you all. I can’t imagine.
Tony Smith. Wow, where to start.
I’d only known Tony for 8 years but felt like a lifelong friend, not just to me but also Manuella, Louis and Saul. I guess sometimes you just click with people – well that happened easily with Tony. Fun, friendly, interesting, interested, kind, hugely generous, honest, mischievous, naughty – definitely naughty. Yet even when pushing to the very limits, one flash of his cheeky grin and you’d soon be laughing with him. He had a way with getting away with it, that’s for sure.
I met Tony in summer 2012 not long after moving to Truro with my young family. New to the area and new to the Old Bakery Studios, I bumped into Tony in the kitchen most days. We chatted over coffee. We shared interests in sport, surfing, food, wine, anything basically, that involved a jolly good time. Tony could see I was new to the area, didn’t know anyone, he’d been in the same situation himself a few years before. He took me under his wing I suppose. Invited me to a networking event at the Alverton Hotel – a few beers there and then on into town. The first of many messy, giggly, fun nights. And that was it. Lifelong friends.
Tony suggested our wives meet up and they soon become the closest of friends too. Saul was only 7 months old when we moved and has grown up with Maya as his best bud. Thick as thieves to this day. Eva and Louis have grown up together too and enjoy each other’s company immensely whenever we all meet up. Tony was an amazing dad, a big kid at heart – he loved being around the kids and was always making them laugh and playing practical jokes on them. We were so lucky to have met the Smiths – Tony, Billie, Eva and Maya have been a massive part of our lives and will continue to be. We love them all dearly.
Last summer we went round for one of Billie and Tony’s amazing buffet spreads. Manuella tasted Tony’s couscous dish. Being Manuella, she took it off the table, added some lemon juice, salt, pepper, olives and spices. She completely re-did it. Most people would have taken offence but not Tony – he loved it and smiled the whole time. It’s been a running joke ever since. He took his revenge during lock down by driving up to our house, handing over a box, grinning and driving off. Inside were two giant spider crabs. Still alive. We didn’t have a clue what to do with them and spent most of the day calling Tony and researching the most humane way to kill a crab. After each call, I could picture him chuckling away to himself, chilling on his sofa with a cold beer in his hand.
Through Tony I met two fantastic groups of football lads – the Tuesday and Friday night footy crews. Football is an outlet for us all – something we’d look forward to all week. I loved being on Tony’s team – we dovetailed well together. If I made a run, Tony would usually spot it with a sublime pass. And he would never give up, never stop. I didn’t love playing against Tony. I valued my shins and my ribs, two parts of my body that Tony’s feet and elbows would often find. And I’m sure that sometimes his elbows found my shins and his feet found my ribs. As I winced in pain, his face would be joyful, his big grin telling me ‘put your big boy pants on and get on with it’. And that’s what you did, you got on with it, because Tony led by example, never complaining when he got clattered himself.
Discovering the Old Bakery Studios was a godsend for us when we moved down. Along with Tony, we forged a tight knit group – Dan, Jilly, Natalie, Simon, Sophie, Justin and Adrian. Friday afternoons were never the same again – at 1pm we’d meet in someone’s studio, wine and food in hand. And we’d start the weekend early – we’d eat, drink, talk nonsense and laugh. Boy did we laugh. Some of the best times of my life – and the life and soul of it all was Tony – laughing like Sid James, cooking fine food, pouring a glass of wine, taking the mickey, smiling.
Tony’s smile – his smile and laughter is something that many people have mentioned over the past couple of weeks. Something they will always remember fondly about him. One of the footy lads summed it up perfectly – twinkle-toed on the pitch, twinkle-eyed off it.
I just want to mention one story that struck a chord with me when reading through all the amazing comments that people have written on Facebook. 20 years ago Tony and his old friend James went to the Reebox stadium to watch Bolton V Spurs. They got off the train at the stadium with hundreds of other fans. They crossed the bridge and then Tony noticed a lad with a white stick stood by himself on the platform they had just left. Tony walked back over the bridge to the platform, put the fella’s hand on his shoulder and asked him where he was going. Tony and James led him to a pub at the stadium to meet his pals and had a drink with him there. That sums Tony up. Always so kind, always so selfless. 300 football fans and only Tony went back.
Just before I go, I just wanted to say that if any good can come out of this is that we talk more. Us men are crap at it – there is no shame in opening up if you have an issue. No shame in sharing your feelings with your mates. And not just men, all of us, the kids too – it’s a scary old world out there right now. Let’s talk more. Another message from one of the footy lads – we will be a poorer group now from your loss but hopefully you’ve given us the strength to help each other in a way we couldn’t help you.
Tony my friend.
Thank you for looking out for me and my family when we moved here
Thank you for all the amazing people you and Billie have introduced us to
Thank you for paddling in to the beach when the waves were good, leaving your board on the sand and swimming back out so you could teach Louis how to surf
Thank you for not clipping Saul round the ear when he slapped you on the bum as hard as he could.
Thank you for calling my wife Man U
Thank you for never showing me your mankini, with you inside it
I will miss air guitaring with you at the festival silent discos til the early hours – outlasting the teenagers. The last two old farts standing.
I will miss watching sport with you and the many ‘one for the roads’?
I will miss setting aside a special toilet for you at our house whenever you came round for dinner as it seemed you were incapable of doing a poo in your own house.
I will miss you saying “de de de de de” when you couldn’t be bothered to finish a sentence
I will miss watching you chat and smile and engage with anyone and everyone
I will miss hearing Billie calling you Anthony and wondering who Anthony was
I will miss you saying “bonjour madame” to my wife.
I will miss our annual beef skirt bbq contest – yours was always the best
And as my wife has already said, we will miss you. That’s it. You will leave a huge hole in all our lives.
Andy and I first met Tony, Billie and Eva when they became our next door neighbours nearly 15 years ago when they moved from Manchester to Cornwall. They were the best neighbours anyone could ask for. With Tony’s cheeky chap humour and both Billie and Tony’s wonderful acts of kindness and Fun loving attitude, we hit off a friendship with them both. We were neighbours for the next 14 years and our friendship grew and we became close friends often socialising and having so much fun together. I remember the few times when we had snow, we got our body boards out, and Tony even tried a tea tray, to toboggan down the road where we live. We would see who could go the quickest and the furthest. We were big kids just having fun and laughing so much together.
Tony always had a love for Cornwall life and the outdoors. Surfing, camping, mountain biking and exercising. One of the best outdoor activities with him was the kernow killer last year which Andy and him went into blindly. When he messaged Andy to take part, they naively thought it was just a few obstacles and a few kilometres – Andy thought no problem- why not, knowing it would be amazing fun especially with Tony on the team. The day didn’t disappoint, with minimal training but all the gear for the actual 9 or 10 miles and 84 obstacles of the real kernow killer. With sideways winds and torrential rain, 3 inches of mud and in some places – without a word of a lie up to their waists in mud. Some of the obstacles were even closed due to the extreme weather warning issued that day. Billie and I cheered and laughed them on and they somehow managed to complete the course. Tony, in the way only Tony did, completed the course without a single moan, groan or negative comment championing all the team on making the most of it and collecting new friends along the way. Manuella also took part that day, and developed an injury to her knee. Tony was never one to leave any person behind and stayed with her to the very end encouraging her on. That was the thing about Tony he inspired people to push on and we all followed and got involved. He brought people together, socially, in his work and between his many friendship groups. I have heard numerous times over the past few weeks of Tonys care and kindness for others and ability to include everyone. He never left anyone out or behind. And as Billie would say, and we agree, he was the ‘salt of the earth’
Tony loved his food; eating it, cooking it, the social aspect of it and bringing everyone together. With our mutual love of good food, our get togethers usually revolved around eating – and lots of it! (preferably many lobsters and crabs) including drinks, fun and laughter. One day we even woke up to find a surprise present of 2 live crabs on our doorstep as new pets from Tony!
Tony was a great cook and we enjoyed eating his food together, inevitably followed by a few drinks and a great evening. We remember amazing parties at Billie and Tony’s house full of friends and always an amazing buffet of food. Especially around Christmas time the dancing, joy and laughter filled the house. With lots of children running around and often Tony playing a joke on them or mucking around with them. They all loved him and looked up to him. He was a big kid at heart.
Whilst each of us were on holiday in Barcelona we enjoyed and shared our interest of good food meeting up for a tapas dinner. It included enjoying all the foods that Barcelona had to offer including snails and razor clams. Not for everyone but a funny experience trying them nonetheless. There have been countless other food events we have enjoyed together in cornwall and trips out, just too many to mention, and they were always full of laughter mainly from Tony’s well known wit and jokes. Everyone knows Tony was a cheeky and fun loving guy. One of our first encounters of Tony’s cheeky side was when we woke up to find male and female body parts drawn in chalk on our driveway next to the drivers side door of each of ours cars to represent where we should park our cars. He naturally found this hilarious – as did we! This was one of many times where Tony combined chalk and his artistic talents to decorate the driveway and entertain us.
The other side to Tony was his professional attitude to work and considerable skills as an architect. We called upon these skills a few years ago when our dental practice was going to be expanded. He saw our vision and his skill and creativity with this redesign was key in achieving the successful outcome that we wanted. He spent lots of time with us, his patience unwavering with our multiple changes and high demands and he took care over all aspects of the design with his attention to detail. He was a talented architect and incredibly creative man as we all know.
The last time we saw Tony was not that long ago on a day out to llama land with Tony, Billie, Eva and Maya. Where we simply had the best laugh walking llamas around a field in the pouring rain in cornwall! It sounds like a very strange thing to do, and it was! It brought us altogether having fun with the Smiths. I will never forget the Llama equivalent of the grand national hurdling Llamas over a fallen tree in the field that day and the laughter that followed.
Tone you were one of the nicest, kindest, genuine and most fun guys around. And you were our best friend, We will miss you greatly. Rest in peace my friend
A complete rascal and so persuasive with it. RIP Tony.
Such a wonderful man and such a tragic loss. Funny, generous and a huge heart of gold. My love and thoughts go out to Billie, Eva and Maya.