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Obituary: Bill Stone - co-founder of McCarthy Stone

TRIBUTES have been paid to Bill Stone, the founder of developer McCarthy Stone, who has died at the age of 85.

William Stone – known as Bill – and his business partner John McCarthy built thousands of retirement properties in the ‘80s since completing their first in 1977. The firm is one of the largest construction employers in the area.

Born in Pennington, Bill attended the Pennington Infant and Junior schools before beginning a carpentry and joinery apprenticeship where he first met John McCarthy. Initially building sailing boats and then caravans together, the partners reinvested their earnings and moved on to building bungalows and undertaking roofing jobs.

Bill Stone was co-founder of McCarthy Stone
Bill Stone was co-founder of McCarthy Stone

As a youngster Bill was a member of Lymington Rowing Club, and he also developed a passion for sailing which endured throughout his life.

Bill’s wife Sally said: “In the early days it was just Bill and John, but by the time they were building bungalows they had employed one or two extra people.”

Bill Stone was co-founder of McCarthy and Stone
Bill Stone was co-founder of McCarthy and Stone

Realising there was a gap in the market for retirement housing in the early 1970s, the pair took a huge financial risk in building their first housing block in Highcliffe, which was completed in 1977. However, it was a risk that paid off, and in the five years that followed the pair had developed 15 retirement properties and were employing hundreds of builders and carpenters.

After the company was floated, growth was rapid, and by 1984 the company operated nationally with annual sales approaching 1,000 units. The business was exceptionally profitable due to the rapidly ageing population. Annual sales reached 2,601 units in 1988, with Bill remaining involved in the business until he sold his final share in the 1990s.

Bill Stone was co-founder of McCarthy and Stone
Bill Stone was co-founder of McCarthy and Stone

Bill loved sailing at Lymington and kept a boat at the Yacht Haven, and later in Southampton. After stepping back from McCarthy Stone, he bought Gordleton Mill on Silver Street and developed it into a boutique hotel and restaurant.

“His passion was to make a beautiful hotel and restaurant, with fine dining. He invested so much money into making it a beautiful place,” Sally said.

He later ran another company building retirement villages before moving into the construction and development of specialist dementia homes in Verwood, Poole and Plymouth.

A father to Pepita and Oliver, Bill was a fairly private man, who loved spending time with Sally at their rural home in France. They also enjoyed many holidays to the Caribbean and Majorca.

Sally said: “Bill was a very kind and private person. He was fit and went to the gym three times a week in Bournemouth until he was about 78. He always kept working, he loved the challenge.”

John Tonkiss, CEO at McCarthy Stone, said: “Bill Stone played a significant role in pioneering retirement housing to support older people and helped establish McCarthy Stone as the leading company in this sector. We are proud that his legacy lives on.

“Bill is in our thoughts, and we send our sincerest condolences to his family and friends at this sad time.”

Bill passed away peacefully at Linden House on Sunday. He is survived by Sally, Oliver and Pepita, and his funeral service has been held. Those wanting to donate in Bill’s memory can give to the Alzheimer’s Society c/o Maria Jones Funeral Directors, Brockenhurst.

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