Local Face: Toni Washington

Toni Washington was born in Princess Mary Hospital, RAF Halton as most Wendover children were post World War 2 into the 1980s. The family thought themselves blessed to have Dr Riley as their beloved GP who trusted the excellent service from the last hospital where he had been stationed while serving his country. This was a special benefit of living in Wendover at the time.

Toni comes from an old Buckinghamshire family. Her nanny worked for Miss Alice de Rothschild of Waddeson Manor, who died in 1922. Her grandfather came from Westcott. The married couple settled in Wendover and most of Toni’s siblings, cousins and their children still live in or near Wendover to this day. Toni is therefore surrounded by people who call it “the village” and whom she has known all her life. By contrast the latest generation struggles to stay in Wendover. She remembers a High Street of specialist and necessary shops and, with her contemporaries, mourns these losses.

The times they were a-changing: starting at the new John Hampden Infants School with head teacher Mrs Hatwel, Toni then moved up to the Clock Tower School and class teacher Mrs Chamberlain, still occupying the original Victorian buildings long since turned into spacious dwellings. In 1974, Headmaster, Mr Pammenter walked the whole school to new premises which Wendover Junior School occupies to this day and has the old school gates to demonstrate the heritage. Next, a short move to John Colet School under the legendary Gordon Newman. Toni was delighted to leave school and start work as an apprentice hairdresser, starting her own mobile hairdressing business 8 years later.

Toni’s Dad, Eric, was chair of the Royal British Legion Club in Chiltern Road for 18 years with her Mum, Pam, serving behind the bar. Toni’s cousin Julie, daughter of her Dad’s twin sister Ena, is married to Barry Evans who now manages the Legion Club with his daughter Emily behind the bar!

Toni met Gary Thorne, who spent his school boy years in Weston Turville, in the early 1990s and they married in Kenya in 1995. Toni lived in married quarters in Plymouth for 6 years until Gary finally came out of the Navy, when they decided to return home to Wendover. Toni was fully supportive of the charity work Gary did, a lot based from The White Swan in Wendover High Street. It was a great shock when Gary suddenly died in February 2016. It took a while to recover from this tragedy but Toni is now very happily settled with a new partner – spookily, he is also a Tony.

Toni missed all her regular clients during the first lockdown but fortunately she was able to get back to doing their hair and things are now back to normal. She has known many of her clients for a long time, in the case of Margaret Ridgway over 40 years, and knows their families, too! She is very happy to be an active part of her home village. Thank you, Toni, a regular Wendover girl.