Our good friend Tony Gardner

by Peter Watt and friends of Tony Gardner

Tony was formally remembered at the NEC this week and his funeral on Friday. I was proud and moved to deliver a eulogy along with Tony’s former agent Keith Humphries, his nephew Roger Gardner and representatives from the charities that Tony worked for.

We sang Jerusalem, Abide With Me and The Red Flag and celebrated Tony’s life. It was, of course, tinged with sadness at losing a friend. The comments that were posted in response to my original tribute reflect the warmth with which Tony is remembered. That same warmth was reflected by all those present on Friday.

Thank you for your comments.


October 20, 2011 at 8:34 am

You won’t get many like Tony around theses days. The interns and spads and youngsters don’t believe in hard graft. Its mobiles blackberries and telephone canvassing, rather than pounding the streets talking face to face with people. And the people at the top, the people we vote for, rarely venture into their constituencies.

Jon Lansman:

October 20, 2011 at 10:20 am

A nice piece, Peter. And I don’t often say that about what you write.

Damien watt:
October 20, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Well written Peter I agree Tony was a lovely guy.I also remember him driving down the road while I was running up and Down driveways leafleting and canvassing you’ll be sadly missed.A real local hero and force to be reckoned with and a very good counsellor. He was very suportive to our family whilst our dad was dying. RIP Tony.

Ralph Baldwin:
October 20, 2011 at 6:20 pm

Well when the Party starts promoting the Tony’s of the world, rather than the lazy and very ambitious, you’ll be sure to let me know.

Philip Hills:
October 20, 2011 at 9:36 pm

I’ve known Tony for 56 years when we both started at Southampton University, where he spent 4 years ending up as President of the Students Union. He was substantially instrumental in bringing me into the Labour Party and as good a friend as one could wish to have. As, in effect, you say above, no one could have been a more energetic and loyal member of the Labour Party than he was, working his heart out for it until long after infirmity would have caused most people to give up. It must be a bit over a year since I last saw him. I shall miss our meetings and occasional telephone conversations greatly.

Roger Gardner:
October 21, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Dear Peter
Thanks for writing such a warm piece about my uncle. Its funny that now he has passed away you get to hear from people in all walks of life that have been great friends with Tony. The phone hardly stops ringing and he will be greatly missed by all the family. My father, his brother David, asked if it will be a small family service and I had to tell him that he had no chance of that, bless.

The service will be held at Poole Crematorium Nov.4th 12.30pm
Pie and a pint after at Parkstone Trades and Labour Club, Ashley Road, Parkstone, Poole, Dorset.

Once again many thanks
Roger Gardner

Cecil Fudge:
October 27, 2011 at 9:42 am

Tony Gardner was a friend and fellow LP member for over 60 years and notwithstanding his parliamentary experience he constantly reminded me that whatever the leadership did “up there” the real world of politics was down at the local level where the real bastards were. And his love of local history meant that he could quote relevent Poole names over the last few hundred years! But I also remember his delight at finding new sea-food restaurents, purring over a good wine list and then complaining about the ourageous prices! In truth I think he would have liked to have spent all his weekends on a cafe crawl in the south of France. Thank you Tony for the many good times.

John Arnold:
October 30, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Like Philip Hills I first met Tony as an undergraduate at Southampton University in 1955. Tony came as a mature student having obtained a certificate after a course at the Cooperative college. He had had experience of real politics and had also studied political philosophy. He was very important to me as I had done my 6th form A levels but had a 2 year gap from academic study due to national service. I think that I learned at least as much from Tony as I did from our lecturers. He taught me how to learn from others.
After my first lecture I went into the Library to write up my notes, but after my second lecture Tony said lets go for coffee, so I did and that began my real education.
Tony was convinced that the opportunity given by University education required a commitment to public service. When ever we discussed what we intended to do with our lives Tony would always say ‘ we are not studying for degrees in order to sell soap’

Jenny Arnold:
November 2, 2011 at 8:57 pm

Tony liked the ladies so let a female friend speak up for him. When Tony was President of Southampton Students’ Union I was his vice president and sat beside him through many meetings.
Tony liked a good argument and could put his views clearly and cogently, but his sense of humour nearly always bubbled up to lighten any dispute.
I think he saw himself as a “man of the people” working for the disadvantaged through the Labour Party and through the World Development Movement, to which he contributed much time and effort in the Dorset area.
As well as appreciating good food and wine, Tony had green fingers and was a gifted gardener producing impressive crops and flower borders, he demonstrated that the “answer lies in the soil”! He will not be forgotten.

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