• Robert Alton: Shuker, 1959 – 1964

    Robert Alton.In Memoriam - 1

    Passed away 22 April 2024, aged 78

    Robert was a pupil at Trent College between 1959 and 1964, a boarder in Shuker House, he was awarded the privilege of Head of House in his final year of school.

    After leaving Trent College, Robert entered a career in hospital administration, based in Sussex. Some time later he returned to his native North East and joined the Yorkshire Bank. When his parents retired to Jersey, Robert joined them in 1972 and began working for TSB. He later joined HSBC, in the Security Department, where he remained until retirement.

    Robert married Mary in 2000. He enjoyed an active retirement with his many friends and learned to compose simple music. In 2012, Robert returned to Trent College to attend the 1960s Decade Reunion event, where he met up with old school friends, including his long time friend John Bell.

    Robert died peacefully, in a Hospice in St Helier, on 22 April 2024.

  • Peter John Smith: Wortley, 1962 to 1966




    Passed away 22 March 2024, aged 74 years

    Peter was born in 1949, a couple of years after his mother and father had married. Tragically, age the age of 5 Peter’s younger sister died, aged 2 so he spent some time living with his grandmother while his parents moved house. His grandmother was a very religious lady and living with her left Peter with an enduring love for traditional hymns.

    Peter went to two boarding schools and looked back with great fondness on his time at Trent College. He credited his Wortley Housemaster and teacher of Latin, John Sayers, with sparking his interest in Imperial Rome. The study of the Roman Empire subsequently became his lifelong passion.

    Peter entered the family business, becoming, along with his brother Paul, the third generation of Smiths to run BMTR. Peter developed Biketyrestore, a flagship motorcycle tyre wholesaler, which was the first in the UK to sell the now famous Bridgestone brand. He also followed his father in taking an official role with the National Tyre Distributors Association.

    He was a keen motorcyclist. He also loved horses; an interest he developed at his first school. He rode for many years with great enthusiasm, refusing to be deterred by regularly being dumped overboard by both Toby and Cassius, his two favourite horses. He always insisted that a serious rider never fell off, but rather was thrown!

    Peter was also enthusiastic about playing the organ. He was a keen Friend of Birmingham Symphony Hall for some years and, after his parents died, he supported a scholarship in their name to help budding professional organists. He played the organ at Birmingham Symphony Hall himself on occasion and also at several churches around Birmingham. His repertoire was mainly famous hymns and always ones he said had “some welly”. The hymns for the service are ones he played regularly.

    On his visits to Trent College, he would always spend time in the Chapel, in the company of the Chapel Organ.

    Peter and his sister Vicky spent Christmas in Rome twice and he was deeply moved by the Masses at St Mary Major. He also went to morning prayer at St Philips in Birmingham on occasion.

    Peter always threw himself into the things that interested him, but his overwhelming passion was Ancient Rome. After retiring from the business, he was able to devote his time and resources to not only visiting Rome, but also supporting research on Roman life and culture. He was a significant donor to the British School at Rome and supported their archaeological work at Portus and St John Lateran, amongst others. He helped with the purchase of equipment for the archaeology department and had recently funded a scholarship to support post-doctoral researchers. He also funded a significant project at Herculaneum.

    In 2023, Peter generously shared his passion for Ancient Rome and the archaeological project taking place at Herculaneum with pupils at Trent College as they prepared to visit Naples on a Classics Educational trip.  They were particularly grateful for the private visit to The Room of the Custodian, a site at Herculaneum closed to the general public due to its protected position.

    Peter often stated that he wanted above all to leave some kind of legacy in the study of Rome. He clearly achieved that. He was appointed an Honorary Fellow of the British School in the summer of 2023. Among many generous tributes to him, the Director of Archaeology at the BSR said the following : He was hugely influential in our work….His legacy is the support of some brilliant young colleagues developing their careers. I always think this is the greatest contribution we can make.

    An Italian archaeologist at Herculaneum commented : In this project, he invested his passion and his thirst for discovery…..I will do my best to honour his memory.

    Peter will be missed enormously by his family; brother Paul, his sister Vicky who will miss travelling with him to enjoy and learn about the city of Rome, which he loved so much, and Robert.

    Peter will also be deeply missed by his best friend Madeleine and her husband and family. He loved spending time with them and was exceptionally close to Maddie’s children and he was their extra family member.

    Peter suffered a stroke in April 2023 and had a setback in October. He was, however, getting stronger and looking forward to visiting Rome again in June 2024 and was hoping to visit Trent College later in the year.  Tragically, an accident took his life; his sister Vicky reflect: If the measure of a life is that you make a difference, he clearly did, both to those close to him and to many others in Rome and elsewhere.

    Eulogy by Vicky Smith.

  • Rev. Michael Cragg Gowdey: Trent College Chaplain 1974 to 1981

    Passed away 23 January 2024, aged 91

    Curate of Ashbourne with Mapleton and Clifton (Derby) 1958-1963 and Vicar of Chellaston 1963-1969, Rev. Gowdey first enrolled in schools chaplaincy in 1969 when he joined Ellesmere College, Shropshire, as Assistant Chaplain. He arrived at Trent College in 1974 where he held the role of Chaplain until 1981. Rev. Gowdey moved on to become Chaplain at King Edward’s Worcester until his retirement in 1997. He was appointed Honorary Priest-in-Charge Beeley and Edensor (Derby) in 1997-2002 and, held the Bishop of Derby’s Permission to Officiate in retirement.

    Michael is remembered as a much respected and friendly member of Trent College staff, with a good sense of humour. He passed away peacefully at home in Wirksworth; the beloved husband of the late Jill and a dearly loved father, grandfather and great grandfather.

  • Bunty Cardwell: English Teacher and Asst. Housemistress, Shuker 1988 to 1999




    Passed away 3 January 2024, aged 85 years.

    Bunty was born prematurely, in Plymouth, in October 1938. Given the birth name Oithona Shaguine, she was only a few days old and dressed in swan’s down hood and jacket when her elder sister Averill likened her to a ‘Bunty rabbit’ and so, the baby was fondly named from thereon.

    Bunty, daughter to a Royal Navy Police Force father, attended a convent school in Plymouth. It was at a famous Furry dance held at Helston Grammar School, Cornwall, where she was to first meet her future life partner, Richard. It wasn’t until in the Sixth Form, when pupil numbers reduced and there was less segregation between boys and girls, that Bunty and Richard got to know one another. Bunty became Head Girl and Richard was a Prefect. It was on a whim that Richard asked Bunty to join him and some pals at the beach, where they rode their bikes, swam, and lit bonfires; began their lifetime’s relationship.

    Bunty studied English at the University of Southampton, where quite by chance Richard was also studying. Richard proposed to Bunty on their Graduation and they were married a year later, moved into a flat in Southampton and acquired the first of their many beloved Cocker Spaniels.

    Bunty started her teaching career at the Sainte Union Convent in Southampton. Around three years later, upon Richard securing a job in Aberystwyth, the couple and their dog moved to Wales and Bunty began teaching English in a Welsh-speaking school in Tregaron. Another three years later, and promotion for Richard, the couple moved to Nottingham. Following a short time teaching in a school in Nether Street, Beeston, Bunty secured a job at Nottingham Girls High School, where she was known for her commanding knowledge and understanding of literature and a keen intellect, which she dedicated to her students. After some years, Bunty felt that the job was not challenging enough and so decided to leave, securing the Headship of a private establishment, Dagfa House in Beeston. From there, and having taught the daughter of then Headmaster of Trent College and knowing that he was seeking a replacement in the English department, Bunty was appointed to her post at Trent College which according to her husband Richard, she found the most rewarding and certainly the happiest of her all her career.

    Bunty brought a ‘something extra’, with her organised visits to plays in Stratford, Nottingham and Derby, speakers at her Art Society like Willy Whitelaw and the novelist (and former pupil at the High School), Julie Myerson, the local MP to name just a few. Upon her retirement. Jonathan Lee, the then Head, asked Bunty to continue to work part-time which she did for three more years. One

    colleague from Trent wrote: “Instead of drifting with the flow Bunty had such energy and strength that she made things happen. She made an impact on everyone who knew her for her capacity for gentleness and sensitivity for the vulnerable”.

    Bunty and Richard lived ten happy years in Sawley before moving to Sandiacre, where they remained. Bunty was famed for her dinner dates; she loved to entertain friends and she loved to organise trips to the open-air theatre at Tolethorpe which she ran for more than twenty years. Her last visit was organised for July 2024.

    On retirement Bunty joined the Village Leisure Club for keep-fit classes and made another circle of friends, who cite her “generosity of spirit” and acknowledged her as a wonderful wife – “smart, fearless, supportive”.

    A life lived to the full in a service to teaching, to friendships and, above all, to Richard over sixty-three and a half years of marriage and seventy plus of knowing one another.

  • G R Quentin Fox: Wortley 1960 to 1965




    Passed away 6 November 2023, aged 77

    Quentin was born in Huddersfield on 27 October 1946 to Winifred and Harold (Fox). He was the youngest of three children.

    Quentin attended Trent College and had remained in contact with fellow pupils.  After leaving Trent in 1965, Quentin headed south to Bournemouth where he studied for a BSc in Economics.

    After graduating in the late 60s, Quentin started his working life at the British Shoe Corporation, travelling around the country in his role.

    He loved travelling and in the early 70s travelled extensively behind the Iron Curtain. He enjoyed a chunk of his life in Finland and later in Slany near Prague, a city he loved, where he taught English to students for a number of years.

    On his return from Prague in the early 2000s, Quentin moved back to his home in Marsh, near Huddersfield before selling up and moving to Chester to be close to his sister Gill.

    Quentin loved books, he was an avid postcard collector, and he had a real passion for music, particularly classical – he travelled worldwide to watch his favourite conductors.

    He enjoyed football and was an avid fan of his hometown team- Huddersfield town.

    From all the kind words written by his many friends, it’s clear the Quentin was a much trusted, loyal friend.  Tributes have shown that he was considerate, friendly, had a deep sense of humour, was modest, and he had integrity, – a true gentleman.

    Recording of Quentin Fox’s funeral service

    Tribute video for Quentin Fox


  • Jeffrey Geeves Slack: Hanbury House 1947 – 1952

    Jeffrey Slack.In Memoriam - 1

    Passed away 18 October 2023, aged 89

    Jeffrey was born in Staveley, Derbyshire and attended Staveley Primary School, before moving away to Scunthorpe and Grimsby, where his father was working. In 1943 his father passed away and the family moved back to Staveley to live with relatives.

    Jeff was a bright boy and at the age of 13 he won a scholarship to Trent College. During his years at Trent, Jeff proved his prowess on the rugby field and became a school prefect. He was grateful for the education, both academic and social.

    Jeffrey Slack. Young

    Jeff went on to Durham University (Castle) to study, among other things, Arabic. However, his family were experiencing difficulties and so Jeff dropped out of university to move home and support his mother and siblings.

    He worked as a coal screener at the colliery which provided an income for him and the household. He was then called up for national service. He was grateful to serve in the Intelligence Corps where he met more like-minded and agreeable people. As a result of being able to speak Arabic, it was intended that Jeff would be posted to the Middle East however he was sent to Cyprus and later Germany.

    When he returned home, he worked for the Derbyshire Times as a reporter. The chance then came up of a job in Africa, working for the Central African Post.

    By 1959 and still in his twenties, Jeff was working for the Illustrated Chronicle and Leicester Mercury in Leicester. He then moved on to Newcastle-upon-Tyne where he became the Education Correspondent for the Newcastle Evening Chronicle.

    In 1963 Jeff married Joan Elliott, a colleague he had met some years earlier. They first lived together in Gosforth before moving to a new build bungalow in Newcastle’s West End. Still politically motivated, Jeff went on to work for the Government’s Central Office of Information based in Leeds. Joan took up a position with BBC Radio Leeds running her own morning show ‘Joan Elliott Calls’ five days a week.

    After a few years, Jeff changed jobs again becoming a Senior Civil Servant in Whitehall, as a ‘fixer’ for government ministers and speechwriting for cabinet ministers, Peter Walker in particular. Joan worked as a news editor for BBC Radio London. After some time, Jeff moved to Greater London Council and later took early retirement, along with Joan. Jeff and Joan ran a volunteer group called ‘Ham SOS’ helping the elderly people in their local area of Ham, West London. They enlisted the help of many ‘media’ friends who lived in the area, arranging transport and other support services.

    Eventually Jeff and Joan moved to Durham, which Jeff remembered fondly from his university days and where Joan’s son and his family were living. Joan’s health started to deteriorate, and Jeff devotedly cared for her during her battle with Alzheimer’s, never flinching at the increasing load on him. Joan died in 1999.

    As the years went by, Jeff’s own health began to decline. He was diagnosed diabetic and suffered with painful leg ulcers. He missed Joan terribly. He became housebound from around 2017 and would spend his days watching the news, never losing his interest in current affairs. Joan’s son Patrick helped him as much as possible, which ultimately supported him to stay in his own home that he had shared with his beloved Joan. In August 2022, Jeff had a series of falls which led him to being taken to hospital and from there to a care home in Chester-le-Street. His health continued to decline, and he also appeared to be suffering from dementia.

    Jeffrey Geeves Slack passed away in the early hours of 18 October 2023, aged 89.


  • Michael Charles William Harding: Wright, 1964-1969

    Passed away 6 September 2023, aged 72

    Michael was the second son born in 1951 to parents Irene and Ned Harding.  He had an elder brother, Ian, completing the family.

    Michael spent his school years at boarding school. The thing that Michael probably liked most about education was Rugby, a love that he shared with his three sons later on. But he also admitted to having many fond memories of his time at Trent College, indeed he was proud to be part of the alumni network and took the time and trouble to stay in touch with the school.

    Michael was highly intelligent and articulate and would go on to demonstrate his talents in a successful career in international telecoms sales, a career that also took him and his young family – wife Christine and sons Rowland, James, and Paul – to live in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at one time.

    One of Michael’s many passions was cars and he enjoyed many vehicles over the course of his life, which he treasured like the apple of his eye, including a Mark 1 Triumph Spitfire, a Morgan classic, a Jaguar E-Type and a BMW Z3, to name but a few.

    Once home, Michael loved parties and socialising. He was a generous host, witty, funny and great company. In his quiet time, he loved to read military and geopolitical history and hosted a vast library.  After his first marriage had ended, Michael moved to Marbella, Andalucia, in 2003 where he worked and lived as an independent entrepreneur until 2013.

    After retiring, Michael moved to a village near Augsburg, Bavaria, Germany in 2014, where he married his second wife Conny in 2015 and lived with her and their two dogs until his death.

    Despite the language barrier Michael was very much appreciated and loved by many people because of his friendly, open-minded, humorous and ‘typically English’ manner.  He was known in the village as ‘the Englishman with the dogs’.

    Michael’s joy and pride were also his five grandchildren, whom he adored.

    Michael was diagnosed with cancer in the spring of 2022, which came as a shock.  He endured the many hospital stays and drastic treatments that affected his quality of life but, with patience and composure, he fought a brave battle that he lost far too early.

    Michael was greatly loved and will be deeply missed by his family and friends.


    Thank you to wife Conny, and his three sons, for providing this touching tribute to Michael.

  • Richard Paul Evans: Wright, 1972 – 1979

    Passed away 1st September 2023, aged 62

    Richard (Dick) was the youngest of four children whose family coach business was based in Atherstone, Warwickshire. He joined Trent College as a boarder in the Junior School in September 1972, transferring to Wright House senior school in the Autumn of ’74.

    Early on at Trent Richard demonstrated his prowess on the sports field. He went on to represent the school at all age groups from Under 12s to Under 16s in Rugby, Hockey and Cricket.  In his senior years Richard was a key player in the school first XV playing as tight head prop, and the school first XI for hockey where he was a stalwart defender. Richard received school colours for both sports. In summertime he turned to athletics excelling in the javelin, shot & discus and proved to be a proficient swimmer.

    Academically strong in maths and the sciences Richard joined the newly formed computer studies group which was to shape his future career.  School prefect, colour sergeant in the CCF and chair of the Sixth Form Club Committee were further achievements. Dick relished his time at Trent forging many strong relationships with pupils and teachers alike.  He would go onto attend numerous OT dinners and reunions.

    After gaining a degree at Sheffield Polytechnic and later an MBA, he followed a career in IT working for IBM, Cisco Systems and Google.

    Richard married Claire in 1993 who soon understood what Trent meant to him and went on to support him in many events. In 1995 they had a son Matthew who was married in August 2023.

    Loved by his family and friends he will be very much missed.

    (Written by Simon D Turner, OT, Wright 1974-1979)


  • Fredrick Richard Fox: Wortley, 1959-1963

    Passed away 16 August 2023, aged 77

    Richard, or Rick as he was fondly known to family and friends, attended Bramcote Preparatory School from 1957 and arrived at Trent College, into Wortley Boarding House, in 1959. A keen sportsman, he represented Trent College in the Rugby and Hockey teams. When he left Trent in 1963, Rick went on to serve an apprenticeship with Henry Venables in Staffordshire, learning the timber trade – a trade he remained in for the next 30 years of his life.

    He always continued his love of sport and went on to play for Belper 1st XI and helped establish the junior hockey system – a system that helped produce many future hockey stars.

    Rick had two sons Nicholas Jonathan and Robert Richard and having lived in Duffield for over 20 years he moved to Ripley where he spent the last 20 years of his life.

    Rick will be dearly missed by family and friends but always remembered.

  • Alan Hansell Mould: Shuker & Wortley, 1943-1948

    Passed away 5 June 2023, aged 93

    Alan Mould was Head of St John’s College School, Cambridge for almost 20 years.

    Born in 1930 in Upminster, north London, Alan was 4 years old when his family moved to West Kirby on the Wirral.  He arrived at Trent College at the age of 13, first into Shuker House and latterly Wortley.  He sang in the school choir and played percussion in the orchestra.  As well as being a member of the drama society he became secretary of the school’s music club.  He went on to win the Music Prize and Hanbury History Prize in 1948 and between 1945-1948 was a School Chapel Warden.  Whilst in the Sixth Form, Alan caught rheumatic fever which set him back by an academic year.

    When he left school Alan entered National Service.  Sadly, the rheumatic fever returned, and he spent the rest of his Service at a military hospital in Aldershot, Hampshire.

    In 1950 Alan arrived at Pembroke College, Cambridge, to read Medieval History. He continued to focus on music and founded a college madrigal group, the Valence Mary Singers, which later changed its name to the Pembroke Singers.

    When he graduated, he took a post as a history teacher and housemaster at Brentwood School, Essex.  At the age of 29, he was given his first pre-school headship at Shirley House School, Watford.  The school moved to larger premises at Beechwood Park, a former mansion in St Albans, which Alan helped to turn into a flourishing institution with more than 500 pupils.

    Alan met his wife Nesta when he was a teenager, in West Kirby.  During the mid-50s, Alan and Nesta spent six weeks travelling with a tent around the Balkans in a Hillman Minx with two friends from Cambridge.   In 1956 Alan and Nesta married and had two children, Sally a university lecturer and Adrian, a wine merchant.

    In his retirement, Alan wrote The English Chorister, a history of the English choral tradition of the past 1,400 years.

    Nesta passed away in 2014 and subsequently Alan regularly visited his son in Southern France.  Alan was a strong speaker of French and Italian and in 2016, on a visit to the Bayeux Museum in Normandy, he was able to translate for his daughter the entire medieval Latin script of the Bayeux Tapestry!

    Alan passed away on 5 June 2023, in Southern France.

  • Adrian H Cullen: Hanbury, 1960-1964

    Passed away 1 April 2023, aged 76.

    Adrian had been in declining health, whilst living with Alzheimer’s.

    One of three brothers to attend Trent College, he was a House Prefect and always reflected on his time at school with great fondness. This was reinforced by his years served on the Old Tridents Society Committee as Treasurer.


  • William John Belfitt: Hanbury, 1948-1951

    Passed away 24 March 2023, aged 89

    William John Belfitt, known fondly by family and friends as Bill, was born in July 1933 in Birchwood, near Alfreton, Derbyshire. Sadly, he passed away just a few months shy of his 90th birthday.

    His wife of 63 years, Janet, sadly died only two weeks later.

    Bill’s father was a senior coal board official and as a result the family moved around a lot during Bill’s formative years.

    He joined Trent College, in Hanbury Boarding House, in 1948 and when he left in 1951, he went on to attend the University of Nottingham, obtaining a degree in mining.

    After a long career with the National Coal Board, Bill became a lecturer and independent consultant in safety.

    A House Prefect, Bill was also a keen rugby player whilst at Trent and was awarded his 1st XV cap in 1950. In later life often returned to Trent to watch matches; he was a loyal supporter of the school.

    Bill was a Freemason for over 50 years and was a founder member of the Fons Vitae Lodge, associated with Trent College.

  • Craig Keegan: Trent College Hockey Coach/Head of Hockey, 2000-2008

    Passed away on 15 February 2023, aged 54.

    Former coach and Head of Hockey at Trent College, Craig was also assistant coach to the Olympic Gold Medal winning GB women’s squad at Rio 2016 and worked for over 10 years in various other coaching roles for England and Great Britain. He had many club and school connections and was most recently Director of Sport at the University of Derby and was Head Coach at Belper Hockey Club.

    He passed away following a short battle with acute lymphoblastic lymphoma. A great friend, coach and mentor to many, not least the coaches and staff at Trent, he will be sorely missed. He leaves his wife Sally, stepson Harry and daughter Olivia.
    Our condolences and deepest sympathy go to Craig’s family and friends.

  • David Baxter Shaw: Wortley, 1950-1953

    Passed away 9 December 2022, aged 86

    David lived a full and happy life.  With his wife Margaret of 58 years, he loved to travel and did so extensively, especially enjoying their tours through France, Switzerland, and Italy. David was a proud family man. He and Margaret have three daughters, Katharine, Lizzie and Vickie and four grandchildren, William, Alice, Imogen and Florence. David would often talk to his daughters about his school days, his memories happy ones.

    Once he left Trent College, David commenced a career in accountancy, serving his articles at Jarvis Barber & Sons. After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, he served in the British Army for National Service and was commissioned into the Royal Artillery.

    David was very proud to be a Chartered Accountant and throughout his career he was generous with his time, mentoring and encouraging young people who joined the profession. David built up a successful practice in Sheffield, which bears his name and continues to flourish.  He was President of Sheffield and District Society of Chartered Accountants, Master of the Worshipful Company of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and National Treasurer of the Institute of Chartered Accountants.

    David was a philanthropist and community minded, helping others less fortunate than himself throughout his adult life; he supported the YMCA, Hollis’s Hospital and Victim Support. Influenced by his parents who were actively involved with their church when David was a boy, David served as lay treasurer of Sheffield Cathedral for more than a decade.

    A highlight of David’s career, as a proud Yorkshireman and proud of his Sheffield heritage, was to have the honour of serving as High Sheriff of South Yorkshire during the Millennium.

    After his retirement David thrived on the companionship found in the Sheffield Club and Probus. With Margaret, they were warm and generous hosts, and David was an excellent and witty speaker when the occasion required.

    Sadly, David suffered from Parkinson’s disease. His was a life well lived and his family feel blessed to have been there with him on his life’s journey.

    He will be missed terribly.

  • Joseph Anthony Wood: Wortley, 1953 – 1957

    Passed away 28 November 2022, aged 83

    Tribute to Tony Wood, provided by his son Joe Wood (Old Trident, Wortley 1992-1997)

    Everyone has said that my dad was a perfect gentleman, that he helped them and their families and their businesses and that he was truly compassionate. He lived to give.

    Tony, right, with brother Thomas also an OT.

    Joseph Anthony Wood, Tony to all who knew him, was born on 20th May 1939, to Blanche (nee Holmes) and Ernest Wood of Birstwith. Tony’s brother Thomas had been born 18 months previously.

    Ernest ran the family flour mill, F.T. Wood & Sons and the family lived next to the mill, in a house called Ashleigh.  The war started only three months after Tony was born and Ernest was very quickly called up to serve. From 1940 to 1945 Ernest was abroad. In fact, he only returned at the end of the war. These difficult years influenced Thomas and Tony for the rest of their lives. The boys had free run of the mill and the bakery, encouraged by their Grandpa. Thankfully, Ernest returned safely from war and one year later Ruth was born and four years later Jennifer.

    Family holidays were to Bridlington and in later years to Filey, which was to become a favourite spot of Tony’s.

    Tony with brother Thomas, left.

    Thomas and Tony were sent to boarding school in 1946, firstly to Saint Olaves in Ripon and then to Trent College in Long Eaton.

    They became driven by their mother’s burning desire for the success of her sons.  Tony was someone who would hide his light under a bushel. He did this in business and in his family life. He would keep quiet about his accomplishments.  So, it often comes as a surprise when anyone learns that when Tony was still at school (Trent College), he became a talented magician and fire eater! He joined the Magic Circle when he was 17, at the same time as a young man from Middlesborough called Paul Daniels!  With help from Uncle Thomas (OT, Wortley 1951-1953), Tony and his friend Geoffrey Atkinson (OT, Wortley 1951-1955) put together a fire eating act which they performed at the then Grand Hotel in Harrogate, as well as all over the country, including at Magic Circle conventions in Eastborne and Southport.

    Tony with OT Geoffrey Atkinson, Wortley 51-55.

    The act involved, at one point, Tony lighting a cigarette from a flaming arrow as it flew past him mid-air from a bow which Geoffrey Atkinson had just fired towards the wings of the stage where Thomas was standing-by to catch the arrow, out of sight of the audience, into an enormous mass of sacking covered in alum, to put the flames out. The next big magic trick took place when he was 19, which was an escapologist trick performed at the opening of the Knaresborough Annual Festival. Tony escaped from a big packing case which had been put on display in the marketplace in Knaresborough for the public to scrutinise, during the week or so leading up to the event. Tony was tied into a mail bag and then 4 locked into the packing case which was then lowered by a crane into the River Nidd. Given the freezing temperatures of the water and the depth, he had only a few moments to escape in front of the big crowds who gasped when he didn’t appear and then after some disturbance he came up.

    Tony’s days doing magic and eating fire must have taught him a lot about stagecraft and how to deal with a crisis or two. He certainly needed those skills once he got started in the bakery trade.

    The magic act and fire eating came to an end when Tony was called for National Service. Tony joined the Navy and put his National Service time to good use by training to become a mechanical engineer. This was to later help him enormously in the bakery business when all things productive became mechanical.

    First term at Trent. Tony Wood, bottom right.

    F.T. Wood and Sons had been going from strength to strength. After National Service, a training for Tony had been organised at accountants in Leeds to equip him for working at the flour mill. Thomas and Tony were going to be trusted to lead it into the future. The future was full of anticipation.  But then disaster struck; on Christmas Eve 1962 Ernest (Tony’s father) took ill and he passed away on Christmas Day. In those days there was a harsh regime of Death Duties to be paid to the government. This meant that Ernest’s sudden untimely death led to the business and indeed the family home being sold to pay those duties. The family flour mill unfortunately fell into the hands of a corporate business called Staveley Industries, who, only six months later sold it on again to Spillers. These events, leading to the family business falling outside of family ownership, had a profound impact on Tony.  Something which he spoke about from time to time in the future and which lead to him committing that whatever he did in business in the future, it would be a family business, for generations to come.

    Tony had no hesitation in starting in business again, from scratch, on his own. That decision is what took him and Christine into baking and the founding of what has become the family business today, Country Style. They set about this with commitment and hard work, even before they were married. Tony married Christine on Tony’s 25th birthday in 1964. By which time, Tony’s “rank or profession” was rightly recorded on their marriage certificate as “Baker” and Christine’s “rank or profession” was recorded on the marriage certificate as “Confectionary Sales Lady.” This was an early indication of what was to become a unique, remarkable, lengthy, and extremely successful partnership in both marriage and in business.

    Tony and Christine were married for 58 years. Their commitment to each other has been outstanding, as has their commitment to the bakery, where they worked night and day. Initially the baking was done in the extremely early hours by Tony and Christine and the selling of the products was done by way of van rounds, which they also drove themselves, through the growing housing estates.

    In those days, housewives purchased their loaves of bread from a fleet of bread vans which did the rounds. In the late 1970s, our country was in a situation of widespread strikes and industrial disputes. One such strike was the Bread Strike of 1977. Whilst all of the big plant bakers were ground to a halt by reason of industrial dispute and a shortage of bread emerged, independent bakers, family bakers, were baking and selling every loaf they possibly could. The ovens were kept hot and full around the clock and this was a lucrative time. This paid for investment by Tony and Christine into freezing equipment and what started as a pioneering experiment into the sale of deep-frozen bread and bakery products.

    They discovered that it would stay fresh for months and after a short second bake, it would be crusty and fresh out of the oven as if freshly made from scratch. To begin with they used the deep freeze to make stock in advance for peak sales at weekends, bank holidays and when there were big events. They soon realised that they could supply bread to new outlets which could not make their own bread from scratch but still wanted to sell freshly baked products. After study trips to the United States, including Atlantic City, Tony returned with an understanding of doughnuts, their production methods, the equipment that was needed and the market for them. It was on study trips such as these that he first contacted like-minded bakery entrepreneurs such as Paul Fletcher, Trevor Storer and Malcolm Skelton and these trips fuelled his ambition. The rise of the supermarkets brought about big changes. Tony and Christine’s work partnership was key to the transformation from a retail bakery to a successful wholesale business. Tony was no longer the actual baker, he was running a large bakery business and although Christine might still have been called a Confectionary Sales Lady, she was now calling on supermarkets and big national accounts.

    Although work was a big feature in Tony’s life and he worked very hard, he overwhelmingly loved his wife and children. He ensured that there were joyful holidays in what became a long series of Volkswagen caravanettes (which also doubled as bread delivery vans during the week) and eventually a much-visited bungalow in Filey.

    Tony continued his love of engaging with the bakery trade at exhibitions and trade shows once family had arrived. The whole family attended trade shows & exhibitions all over the UK & Europe, overnighting in the Volkswagen caravanette, parked up outside many an exhibition centre or conference hall.

    The principle of never paying a dividend and always ploughing profits back into the business led to rapid expansion. The business took on contracts with British Rail InterCity to serve Danish Pastries onboard and it was soon proved that the business was capable of taking on large contracts. The experiments in the early days of freezing bread after the bread strikes lead to the development of “bake off” in store bakeries, which became a large part of the business. The business took on the accreditations it now needed. New financial systems and engineering resources were put in place.

    Over the years there were many individuals who through loyalty, respect and friendship with Tony contributed to the establishment and development of the business. His popularity greatly contradicted his lifestyle. People wanted to do a good job for him, enjoyed working with him and wanted to see the business grow.

    Tony liked to try things and he really liked a trier in other people. He favoured the underdog and liked to approach things from unconventional angles. Anyone who has directly worked with him will tell you of his incredible ability to ask highly challenging questions which suddenly make one view situations or circumstances in a totally different light. It was based upon incredible instincts which were mostly always right. But he was never the sort of person to say I told you so.

    Tony always attended National Association of Master Bakers events and the friendships and bakery trade comradery of that organisation brought him great pleasure. It was kind of the organisation to bestow Lifetime Membership on him and Christine in 2018.

    Tony was an extremely humble and down to earth man, who did not seek the limelight or public attention. For a man who shied away from the spotlight, he leaves behind a legion of fans. He was a private man who harboured many thoughts in his mind but only shared them with a select few.

    Tony had enormous vision and foresight. He laid down things for the future and looked ahead.

    In August [2023], Tony visited the bakery to see a large new production line which had just started making products after almost two years of planning, building, installing, and commissioning. To avoid the stairs, minimise steps and make the visit manageable for Tony, Joe organised to drive to the side of the building and go in through a fire exit which opened immediately into the bakery. As usual, Tony decided last minute that he wanted to set off much earlier than planned and arrived, as usual, a bit before anyone was expecting him to turn up.  Tony and Joe slipped into the bakery and wandered up and down past the new equipment and settled in a spot where Tony watched hundreds of lovely products whisking past like soldiers and colleagues finishing them off with skill and care. It was the largest scale that had ever done. Tony and Joe stood there together and watched. There were tears rolling down Tony’s cheeks, as he said, “I never imagined that this was how it would be.”

    Whilst no one knew it would be, at the time, that was Tony’s last visit to the bakery.

    Tony passed away peacefully at home at Birstwith, Harrogate with his family around him, on 28 November 2022 aged 83 years.

    Tony leaves behind and is sorely missed by his wife Christine, sons John, Patrick and Joe and granddaughter Gretel.

    Recording of Joseph Anthony Wood’s funeral service

With sincere condolences, we acknowledge the deaths of the following Old Tridents and staff, during the past 12 months. Details of alumni whose passing we have been informed of appears below and includes an obituary tribute where this has been provided. Families are welcome to share the news of the loss of their loved ones, and our deepest sympathy is with them. Please contact us if you would like to share an online obituary.