Fitting tribute for popular maritime commander on his final journey
IT WAS a reflection of his popularity that scores of people could not even fit into Oaks Crematorium in Havant for his final journey.
Much-loved Tony Crisp, who selflessly offered up his time to play the bugle at other people’s funerals, had the fitting tribute as his own melody of The Last Post was played poignantly before the congregated masses who were there to pay their respects to a ‘legend’.
Hundreds of family, friends and well-wishers travelled from all over – some as far away as Australia – to say their final goodbye to a man who relentlessly devoted his life to others.
The commander of Training Ship Active Maritime Training Corps (MTC) in Waterlooville died on Boxing Day after a two-year battle with serious illness.
Tony was celebrated with a guard of honour just five months after hundreds gathered to mark the impressive career of the late 71-year-old as he retired his TS Active MTC duties at St George’s Church Hall after 41 years of service.
During that time he was a trainer and an inspiration to cadets rising through the ranks – manifested with the outpouring of emotion from his former proteges.
Tony was an active member of a number of associations – all of whom spoke warmly of their friend and how he will be sorely missed. Bob Scott, vice president of the Royal Naval Association, said: ‘It’s a fitting tribute for him. He was very popular and did a lot for cadets – it was something he really enjoyed. He would travel all over to play his bugle.’
Richard Stevens, one of the pallbearers and the warrant officer of the MTC, said: ‘Tony was a member for over 40 years and the commanding officer for more than 30 years. He was a great man who did a lot of good for people.’
Another pallbearer Tony Febvre, first leftenant of MTC, said he had never been ‘so nervous’ despite doing countless of parades. But he confessed it was a ‘big honour’. He added: ‘Tony would have wanted us to be the pallbearers.’
They were supported by other TS Active members including captain Will Gibson, leftenant Ian Triggs, petty officer Lewis Triggs and corporal Harry Tyrill. Petty officer Denise Bennett and parade commander Bradley Cox also formed part of the guard of honour.
Even old friends who had not seen Tony for many years turned out for the funeral. Ian Palmer, who knew Tony from the 1970s, said he was an ‘amazing’ man.
Alan Harris, a private at the Fort Cumberland Guard where Tony was a member, touched on the humour that followed Tony around: ‘I knew Tony for 45 years. He was great fun. On one occasion when he was leading a procession around tables his sword accidentally picked up a lady’s handbag without him knowing it.
‘He carried on doing the procession with her bag attached to the sword and never had a clue. It was so funny.’
During the service, led by reverend Paul Miles-Knight, Tony’s daughter Karen Lilley, made a heartfelt tribute interjected with moments of humour to her dad – someone who was ‘charismatic, funny and charming’ and enjoyed a ‘good joke’.
Karen also spoke of his ‘perfectionist’ characteristics and how he would ‘beat himself up’ about how good his rendition of The Last Post was for people at their funerals because he ‘wanted to give people the best send off’.
In typical military fashion, he would dress immaculately which meant he would hog the bathroom for long periods inevitably making his family late, Karen joked.
Speaking of Tony’s wife Anne, Karen added: ‘You made him such a happy man.’