A FLEET of taxis will parade through Gosport next week in memory of a taxi driver who has died following a long battle with cancer.
Tony Valente was well known in the town as a driver with Bridge cars. He also used to work at the popular Bluebird cafe in Lee-on-the-Solent.
The 61-year-old from Orwell Close, in Priddys Hard, spent years battling bowel cancer which then spread to his liver, lungs and bones.
He died on April 28, at his home, with his family at his bedside.
His daughter Claire, 32, said: ‘He was very well known. The family has been here for so many years.
‘He was so easy-going and so friendly.
‘His job wasn’t just his job, it was his social life as well. Nobody had a bad word to say about him.
‘It’s amazing the number of people who have contacted us who we didn’t even know.
‘He made people smile and he had the most loving heart. He told us he loved us every single day. He deserves the very best send-off.’
Tony’s funeral will be at St Mary’s Church in Gosport High Street on Monday, before a fleet of up to 50 taxis will drive to Portchester Crematorium.
Phil Cox, one of Tony’s friends, said: ‘He was down here a long time and he was well liked by colleagues, friends and customers.
‘The best tribute that the taxi drivers can give is to give a procession.
‘I think this is about everyone coming out to show their respect to him. He is going to be very missed throughout the town.’
Tony leaves behind his wife Pam, and three children.
There will only be family flowers at the funeral, but donations can be sent to the Rowans Hospice c/o Barrells Funeral Directors, 245 Fratton Road, Portsmouth, PO1 5PA.
All are welcome to celebrate his life afterwards at the Old House at Home, Priory Road, Gosport.