Local Face: Tony Ounsworth

When Tony was born in Hull towards the end of the 2nd World War his brother was 2 and his sister 1. Dad was in and out of hospital with TB hip so life was not easy for Mam and became much worse when Dad died in 1952 and she subsequently developed a serious illness called acromegaly. However despite the shortage of money she did not drag them out of school to go down the pit – just as well as there aren’t any in Hull – and they all went on to further education, brother and sister becoming teachers. Tony studied French with a bit of German and Russian on an experimental course at Ealing Technical College intended to turn out translators.

When Tony finished in 1967 he was desperate for a job as he was getting married 3 months later to Lin whom he had met in 1963 when she started going out with his best friend. She lived in the next street to Tony. He joined a French bank, Société Générale, as a clerk, thinking that it would do for 3 months or so until something better came along, as he didn’t really want to commute or work for a bank. He left 37 years later having done lots of different jobs including programmer, head of IT and Operations Manager.

In 1973 the bank moved the department Tony was then in out of London to Stony Stratford so they had to move from Guildford and thankfully ended up in Wendover. When the decentralisation programme failed and Tony was moved back to London this meant that they didn’t have to move house again. Richard, their son, was 6 months old when they came to Wendover and Louise arrived in 1975. They both went to the local schools then the Grammar and High School. Richard is a Catholic Priest in the Dominican Order and Louise is a teacher. She lives in Old Aylesbury with husband Paul, who was a classmate of Richard, and children Patrick, just 17, and Katie who is nearly 15. They now go to the Grammar and High as well.
Tony loved Wendover straight away. It had everything he needed: a Catholic Church, library, railway station, bank, and a friendly local, the Two Brewers, where they played dominoes which Tony loved. He soon got in a school there and later on in the White Swan where he was still playing until lockdown in March. Tony got involved at St Anne’s joining the Church Committee and doing the books for a number of years and from the late 80s was on the joint Management Committee with the Free Church, taking and typing many sets of minutes. He eventually resigned last year after 30 years. Tony also started playing squash, quite badly, when the local court was built until he had to stop after a back operation in 1995.

Tony reached retirement age at the bank in 2005 though he did 3 weeks’ consultancy work for them in that summer. To start with he did nothing extra after retirement, just unwound and enjoyed not having to traipse to Tower Hill every day. He then decided to join the small Saint Anne’s Conference of the St Vincent de Paul Society. After the required DBS check he was then able to visit lonely people in their own homes which he found immensely rewarding, especially if he knew that the person he was visiting wouldn’t see anybody else that week. He also joined the local volunteers committee at Abbeyfield in Dobbins Lane so he visits there as well and helps out occasionally at fund raising events such as the charity coffee mornings. Tony is also a trustee of St Anne’s Hall.

For a number of years Lin and Tony looked after Patrick and Katie one day a week and they loved doing that though he did get fed up of listening to Dora the Explorer on the way to and from school, and was pretty tired after thrashing Patrick in the Hull City v Arsenal games at the park. Yes, OK, Patrick was only 8.

In 2015, Tony and Lin committed to “continue volunteering as long as we are able” in Shelflife, the Friends of Wendover Library Newsletter

When the library became a Community Library Lin and Tony both volunteered and in normal times work on the counter. They both thoroughly enjoy it and are looking forward to it being open properly again.

At Lin’s suggestion Tony did Italian at night class as they love Italy and try to visit at least once a year. Over the last few years they have increased their travelling including Australia twice and Canada once. They have also done a few river trips in Europe and enjoyed many short breaks in this country. Tony spends a lot of time doing crosswords and other puzzles to keep himself sane but others may have a different view.

Wendover is a wonderful place to live and Tony can’t see them ever moving away. So as Tony says, “You are lumbered with us.”