A FORMER A&T journalist who has died at the age of 81 was so fond of the newspaper he used to have it sent to him when he was serving overseas with the army.
Having always wanted to be a writer, Anthony Rickard, known as Tony, became a junior reporter after leaving school.
His widow Jennifer said: “He had a great love of writing all his life. In his elder years he would send lot and lots of letters to the A&T and was always very pleased when they were published.
“He became a reporter on the paper when he was very young and would go off actually chasing fire engines when he heard them go by.
“Tony loved the job but after a couple of years he decided he wanted to see more of the world and joined the army. He signed on for three years in the Military Police then went to the Special Investigation Board where he was a Lance Corporal.
“He loved the A&T so much that he would have it sent over to him when he was serving overseas. He was very proud because he said the A&T was the best produced of all the local papers the boys received.”
Born in Lilliput, Bournemouth, in 1937, Mr Rickard was only eight when his mother died in an accident. His father was a maths teacher and felt unable to care for his young son, so he went to live with his half-sister Anne in Lymington.
She was married to well-known photographer Miles Cooper. Mrs Rickard said: “Tony said he had the best upbringing – Anne and Miles were the best parents he could ever have wished for.
“They had only just got married when they took Tony in and Anne was only about 22.”
Tony went to All Hallows boarding school in Devon, leaving at sixteen. Upon leaving the army, he entered the motor trade and joined Wadham Stringer in Southampton selling commercial vehicles.
A few years later he moved to Truro in Cornwall to work for the Mumford Group, and that is how he met Jennifer.
Smiling at the memory, Jennifer said: “My dad worked with Tony and one day he came home and said to my mother, ‘How would you like a lodger?’
“To be honest I wasn’t too happy about it as we’d never had one before. He came for two weeks and stayed for four years! He loved my mum’s home cooking.
“Unfortunately she died at a young age and I took over looking after the house and the cooking. Tony moved to Plymouth and I really missed him, although we’d never been boyfriend and girlfriend while he was our lodger.
“He started to turn up on a Saturday night saying: ‘I’ve come for my Sunday roast’, then one day he announced, ‘shall we make a go of it then?’ And that was his proposal.
“We got married when I was 26 and Tony was 28. We moved back to Southampton as Tony missed the area and he got a job with Cares and Lambert, where he stayed for 14 years before setting up his own car sales business named after him.
Jennifer said Tony was a “very good” salesman, who was always happy and loved to chat, earning him lots of loyal customers. He had the business for 35 years.
The couple bought a house in Pennington, where they had lived for the past 26 years with a succession of West Highland terriers which Mr Rickard doted on.
Jennifer continued: “Tony moved to Lymington as he wanted to be near Anne and Miles. He cared for them like they had cared for him.
“He and Miles shared a passion for steam trains – they loved being together.”
Mrs Rickard said in her husband’s retirement he loved listening to cricket reports. “As a young boy his godfather used to take him to Lord’s,” she said. “Steam trains and cricket were always Tony’s great passions.”
Two years ago, Tony had a knee replacement and developed a sore on the back of his leg.
Mrs Rickard said: “His leg got very painful and he was having difficulty walking. He went to the doctors who gave him painkillers. But one night he was in such pain I called paramedics out and he was taken to Poole hospital where they discovered the whole knee was infected.
“Unfortunately, he caught some sort of bug while in hospital and had to be kept in isolation for seven weeks, which for Tony was such an awful thing as he was such a social person.”
After Tony was transferred to Lymington Hospital, Jennifer was looking forward finally to getting her husband home.
However, she received a call on the morning of 1st November to say Tony had died in his sleep. “It was a terrible shock,” she said. “I’ve had the most wonderful messages from people. Tony was a very happy, outgoing person – he would do anything for anyone.”
Tony’s funeral is being held today (Friday) at Test Valley Crematorium in Romsey at 11.30am. All are welcome.