Tribute to Tony Berry, as read at his funeral on 16th November, 2018

Tony came to Shorelink soon after moving to Hastings.  Shorelink, for those of you who don’t know us, is a writing group which does not do competition, or critiquing, or any of that stuff, believing that support, encouragement and, perhaps most of all, laughter, is the spur to creativity. Tony sort of proved the point, fitting in like he had always been with us, and  then going on to publish four novels,

He became our treasurer, and he was soon helping to organise group meals, theatre outings and many other events. Having fun and making sure that other people did was important to him, as illustrated by the lovely garden party he and John held every year.

John and Tony became close personal friends with Ro and me. The four of us shared many delightful evenings working our way round the local restaurants and we shall always cherish the memory of those.

Tony had a huge gift for writing, and performing comedy. I asked our members to send me their tributes and memories and they have poured in, with so many underlining his comedic talents.

Here are just a few snippets from the many messages I received:

He was so kind, caring and encouraging but most of all I loved his humour which came out in his hilarious short stories.

He had a great imagination for a good story, and performed them rather than just read them, always standing up, making eye contact, and using accents and gesture. He was great at character and dialogue as well as storyline. That was the creative Tony, but he was also our Treasurer and supplier of drinks and biscuits, and had those under-rated qualities of being reliable and getting on with tasks week by week behind the scenes.  Always punctual and always there.  Also a kind, considerate and generous and modest  soul, and he showed so much courage throughout his cancer and treatment, still coming to Shorelink even when he must sometimes have been feeling rough.   ‘Respect’ is my keyword when I think of Tony

Our mate Tony, a lovely man who touched many hearts

Have been racking my brains for a suitable epitaph but find I keep going ‘over the top.’ Besides, what can I add to the heartfelt statements from his friends who have known him a lot longer than I.  What I do know is that he was a damn fine chap, full of energy and enthusiasm and a brilliant raconteur, even if most of his female characters were called Tracy and came (with the broadest of accents) from Essex. And who can forget his outrageous poke at the Eurovision song contest, and also his wildly inept ‘Agent Quinn’ It is not only our Group who are the poorer with his death but the whole writing fraternity and he’ll be an impossible act to follow.

Tony was a kind man, always ready to offer lifts to people like myself who don’t drive

– Tony didn’t just read his stories – he performed them!  His brilliant characterisation  brought them to life with appropriate accents and gestures!!

We will always remember his bravery in announcing his cancer to the group and our stunned silence followed by an outpouring of support and love for him

His personality and his funny stories—and just his presence around the table—will be sadly missed. No matter how many members attend and how many chairs are full, there will always be an empty one

One of our members, Kate, wrote this on Nov 9th

For Tony
There is a whole slice of time

Filled with people, places, objects

He will never see.

Things will happen

And still the world will turn,

Like a carousel, endlessly.

 

We ride that carousel

Until our own time comes around

And we step down,

Make way for other riders

So we can become

Locked in the universal,

The eternal light

Of the stars – as he is now –

And cannot be forgotten,

Seen in that diamond studded night,

Or in the sun’s rising.

 

We loved you, Tony, and we will hold you in our hearts and memories forever.

 

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