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Tony Tillett: chemist and New Milton Rotary president who travelled the world

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Tony Tillett (79) lived for many years in Milford
Tony Tillett (79) lived for many years in Milford

A FORMER president of New Milton Rotary Club, Tony Tillett, has died at the age of 79.

A well-known figure in Milford where he lived for many years, Tony was also president of the village social club and a longstanding volunteer co-ordinator at the community centre.

Born in the West Ham area of London in June 1939, he was the only son of Alfred and Violet Tillett.

After attending school in London, Tony went on to specialise in science and later obtained a degree in chemistry.

In September 1960 he married Joy Swaby at Little Ilford Methodist Church in East Ham and they relocated from London to Suffolk, eventually buying their first home in Keddington. In 1965 they celebrated the birth of their first daughter Sharon. At that time Tony worked for Koch Light Laboratories in Haverhill.

Around two years later the family moved to Milford to join Tony’s parents running the Compton Hotel and soon after, their second daughter Susan was born in 1968.

Tony and Joy ran the Compton Hotel until the mid-1970s when they left the hospitality trade and Tony returned to work as a chemist. Over the next few years he travelled extensively around the world, initially working for Ubichem Ltd before setting up his own chemical business ADT Enterprises, which he ran from his home in Milford.

He always took a leading role in community activities and was a long serving member of the Milford-on-Sea Village Community Committee. This led him to take a key role in reviving and running the village’s annual carnival, as well as helping out with the May Day celebrations and Christmas service on the village green. He was also a member of New Milton Round Table, then New Milton Rotary and more recently Past Rotarians.

New Milton Rotary Club past president Mary Pye said: “Tony was a hard-working, committed and well-respected member.

“He was president of the club in 2005 /2006 and honorary secretary for many years. Following his retirement as a member in 2014, Tony still continued to support Rotary whenever the opportunity arose.”

Tony was also an active member of Milford-on-Sea Social Club, acting as president and bingo caller at both the club and for RNLI charity nights.

Club chairman David Gates said: “He was always prepared to help, organising events and entertainment especially Thursday and Sunday night bingo. Always friendly and supportive, Tony had a good word for everybody. He will be greatly missed by members of all age groups.”

Tony and Joy were very proud when Sharon married Andy Parr in 1990 and Sue married Rob Stevenson the following year. They were later delighted to become grandparents to Hannah and Libby.

Over the years Tony enjoyed many foreign holidays with family and friends, visiting Malta, Spain, Portugal, St Lucia and the Canaries.

After Joy died in May 2015, Tony resolved to keep himself busy by volunteering at the community centre as telephone co-ordinator for arranging transportation for patients to hospital appointments. And he fulfilled a longstanding ambition to go on a cruise visiting the fjords, the Baltic, the Northern Lights and Iberian Peninsula.

He also joined the local whist drive club which his father Alf used to run and it was there he met his new partner Barbara Saunders, whom he was due to marry on a cruise to Canada later this year.

Tony died peacefully on 27th December while on holiday at the Bembridge Coast Hotel on the Isle of Wight. A service to celebrate his life will take place at 2pm on Thursday 24th January at All Saints Church, Milford.

Anyone wishing to donate in Tony’s memory can give to Oakhaven Hospice Trust or the British Heart Foundation.

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