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Announcements > Obituaries > Anthony (Jack) Harding (52-57B)

Anthony (Jack) Harding (52-57B)

The Association recently received extremely sad news of the passing of Anthony (Jack) Harding.
Anthony 'Jack' Harding (centre) with Mike Cornish (52-59C) and Baz Norden, WB Head Groundsman
Anthony 'Jack' Harding (centre) with Mike Cornish (52-59C) and Baz Norden, WB Head Groundsman

Eulogy

Antony Patrick Harding

‘Tony’ / ‘Jack’

2nd March 1942 - 4th September 2023

We have come together to honour and remember the life of Antony, known to many as Tony or Jack.

Memories of Tony

Tony started off life at Pyleigh Farm which his grandfather, Eli, had bought and his mother and father farmed for a short while until Eli sold it and moved on to buy Burrow Farm in the 1950s.

His father and mother parted company after the war and then tony spent time between Burrow and his mother in Dorset. He remained very close to his mother for the rest of her life.

Under protest he was sent off to West Buckland School, in the footsteps of his father. He spent most of his time either chatting up girls in the Wayside in South Molton and getting the kitchen staff to put bets on the horses. One time he and a few mates managed to set one of the local farm’s haystacks on fire which caused major upset.

He and his mates secretly built a boat in the attic at school and when finished made plans to take it on its maiden voyage in the Bray at Brayley Bridge, only to realise that the hole into the attic was smaller than the boat and so it had to be dismantled to get it out.

He often came home to Burrow Farm at the weekends and went out on the razz with the Witham Brothers from Luccombe and Alan Dunn which in most cases resulted in lots of fun for them but reduced their popularity amongst the locals.

When Tony and his half brother, Peter were teenagers, they managed to acquire a serious scrambler bike from George Burnell at Wootten Courtney Garage. They spent hours roaring around Burrow Farm along with their close friend Bruce Haywood and were continuously falling off and having a good time.

Having not done very well in his exams he had to go off and do night classes to get the qualification he needed to get into the auctioneering business. He started off with Hunts auctioneers and it wasn’t long before they joined up with Greenslade Taylor Hunt and he was put in charge of selling the pigs at Taunton market. Thereafter he moved to Kings Auctioneers in Gloucester for a spell before moving down to another firm in Southampton in more of a land agents’ role.

Finally, he took the plunge and set up as a Chartered Surveyor on his own and moved back to Taunton where he spent most of his working career. He was always busy and had a career to be proud of. He retired in 1995 but by that time had already started accumulating properties in Exeter for letting purposes and was busy looking after them into his 80s.

Tony also liked to play hard with lots of skiing holidays and trips to his beloved Italy.

This is an excerpt from a letter he wrote to a friend in 2001:

‘For about 12 years my holidays, skiing, opera, and sun have been centred upon Italy so in 1997 I lived in Florence for about a month in an old palazzo with two old, fairly noble, Italian ladies. One of whom sang and the other one ran the equivalent of The Cat’s Protection League in the city. The singer used to have singing lessons and the other received endless phone calls concerning lost cats. It was hysterical! I undertook a total immersion Italian language course which was very hard work, very satisfying and which improved my concentration span no end. At the end of the month I could speak passable Italian but I was exhausted mentally. Now, after a week in Italy it comes back as good as ever it was. Holidays are now skiing in Courmayeur where I used to go and I have found a small, non-tourist, seaside town where I go to in the summer and hang out at the beach, play tennis at the tennis club and crew on old yachts when they are short.’

In 1985 he took a trip to New Zealand to visit his friend Richard Burden who owned and ran a station there. And after living on a typical high-country sheep and cattle farm for 3 weeks his one request on his return to Christchurch was to go out for dinner somewhere that had white tablecloths!

Over the years he spent a lot of time with the Yandles at Riphay and Highley. He often helped Tom and Timmy move the sheep and cattle to different parts of the moor and farm, despite usually turning up in a crisp, cream linen suit! Tony drove a very suave sports car and it always had to be parked in a very safe place on the farm, if such a place exists at Riphay! When he visited his half brother Charles, he had to be collected at the end of the mile long drive in order to protect said precious car from the bumps.

In the 1990s he bought a boat that he moored at Brixham marina which he enjoyed taking out his friends on… even if they were sick! Charles was always requested to be at Brixham at the end of the season to ferry all the stuff from the boat back to his house due to him conveniently owning a truck and trailer… somehow his invitation to take a tour in the boat was lost in the post. This is an excerpt from a letter Tony wrote to a friend talking about his seafaring experiences:

‘I then bought a 30', 4 berth yacht which I kept at Brixham and I sailed this for the next four summers around the southwest travelling as far west as Plymouth and as far east as Poole. I think the highlight of my sailing career was when tried to sail to Guernsey one night in the company of a similar boat sailed by friends from the yacht club. I was single handed and by 2 a.m. in the morning having left Brixham at 8 p.m. I was so exhausted that I could no longer see the compass. I called them on the radio and told them what I was doing and they wished me luck. I turned the boat around which allowed me to set the autohelm because the wind was from a different direction and having checked the boat was holding its course, I went below to doze intermittently between keeping watch. I poked my head up to see what was going on a couple of times and then I fell asleep for three hours so tired was I. The boat was still sailing upon the set course when I finally woke up and feeling refreshed I was able to eat and drink something, finally tying up in Brixham at 10.15 a.m. the next morning. I had made over half the distance to Guernsey before turning round and missed two good parties in Guernsey which was the intention of the trip. I lived on the boat every weekend of those summers and had some brilliant times both off and on the boat. I sold the boat when I was sitting on it in Dartmouth one day and a complete stranger asked me if I wanted to sell it. I thought about it and sold it intending to buy another. The following Spring my mother was widowed so I delayed buying another until she had settled down again which she did but I took up tennis again and did not look for another boat but I still have the odd hankering for one.’

During covid he did finally buy another boat which unfortunately didn’t get much use – the rudder broke on its maiden journey from Lymington to Portland and then the engine packed up too. So Tony spent his final years searching for all the right parts to fix it up. Sadly, he didn’t get to sail it again which is possibly a blessing in light of how unwell he became.

Tony remained a bachelor throughout his life and was fiercely independent. Yet, he was devoted to his mother and was a supportive uncle and godfather. When his goddaughter Mary was at school, he enjoyed watching her play hockey and was always very animated on the sidelines, harking back to his own hockey playing days. Later on they enjoyed meeting for long Italian lunches at Newton St Cyres and he always expressed huge interest in her business in the Himalayas.

He will be greatly missed and fondly remembered by everyone here today.

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