One morning in October last year, I received a call from an old friend of mine, Tony Skuse. I had known Tony since the 70’s when I drank in the Maypole in Hanham, from the terraces at Eastville, watching Bristol Rovers, and from Chasers night club in Kingswood. I had not seen or spoke to Tony for a few months since my last visit to the Maypole in Hanham, Bristol, and I knew he was ill with cancer, which I did not know was terminal. So it came as a complete shock to me when he told me he only had a week or two to live, that he was planning his own funeral, from his bed in Southmead Hospital in Bristol.
Tony knew I was a photographer, and he asked me if I could take photos at his funeral, as a record for the family, which I at first reluctantly agreed to. I had photographed funerals several times before, and I knew that it was a very difficult thing to photograph, as it is not a done thing to do at English funerals, and a lot of people still consider that it is disrespectful. But Tony was insistent, so I said I would come in to see him asap. This I did, just days before he was transferred to the Hospice. Myself, Dave Ackerman and Shark were there that day, with some family members, and he was in good spirits, considering his illness, joking with us and the nurses, and talking about old times. It was to be the last time I was to see Tony, and he passed away 2 weeks later, after a brave fight against cancer, with his family and friends around him.
Hundreds of people attended Tony’s funeral at Westerleigh Crematorium, to pay their respects to him and his family, including Rovers and City fans. It was a celebration of his life, and was followed by the wake at the Maypole at Hanham, which went on late in to the night, as Tony would have wanted. Balloons were released in memory of Tony near the Maypole, and a bar b que was provided.
It was a lovely send off and tribute for Tony, just as he planned it.
With the family’s permission, here are a small selection of images of the day. RIP Tony, UTG