Tony French RIP

It is with much sorrow that we have to announce the passing of long standing member Tony French

Tony spent most of his working life in Wickford as the manager of Barclays Bank, and was involved with many of the town’s businessfolk through organisations such as the Wickford Businessman’s Lunch, which Tony instigated, the Wickford Chamber of Trade and of course the Rotary Club of Wickford. In the early days, a lot of the local businessmen were members of the Rotary Club, and used it not just to serve society but also as a business networking club.

The Rotary Club of Wickford was formed in 1958 and Tony joined in 1971, and at the time of his passing was the longest standing member of the Club, with more than 51 years service. Service above Self is a guiding principle in every Rotarian’s life, and Tony epitomised that in the way he lived, developing fellowship with like-minded people while providing service to the community, both locally and overseas.

He was very much regarded as the Father of the Club, and he was a constant inspiration to many members. It’s fair to say that in many of the debates that happened over what the Club should and shouldn’t do, Tony was able to give an opinion based on his past experience both in Rotary and in business. Some of those opinions even got acted upon!

Tony became President of the Club in 1979, and I’m told that seeing the opportunity before them Tony was very encouraging to Eileen in getting the wives of the Rotarians together to rekindle Wickford Inner Wheel after a ten year cessation, an organisation which still flourishes to this day.

Always keen to volunteer for any task within his capabilities he got involved in a lot of the events and activities put on by the Rotary Club. In the mid 90’s he joined in a sponsored walk over four days around the Isle of Wight to raise funds for the St Luke’s Hospice Day Care Centre. Weekends in October each year would see him alongside his fellow members in Wickford High Street selling programs for the annual Fireworks Display, and this right through his eighties. In 2020-21 he took on the role of Chair of International Services, and championed the cause for a charity called Sightsavers, which helps those in developing countries who potentially lose their sight as a result of a painful and infectious disease called Trachoma. His work raised sufficient money to treat almost 1500 people suffering from the disease.

As his mobility diminished in the last couple of years he continued to help wherever he could, and in 2021 he charmed the children as Santa outside one of the local supermarkets during our Sleigh collections in aid of Essex Air Ambulance, albeit a sitting Santa! He was scheduled to do the same thing again this last Christmas, but sadly he passed away before he was able to do his shift.

So there you have it, a genuinely good man, who had the interest of those around him at heart. Tony will be remembered and sadly missed by all who knew him in the Club. Tony French Rest in Peace.

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