Marlborough is mourning the death of former Town Clerk Tony Skittrall who died peacefully at his George Lane home on Monday 4 December, surrounded by his family.
Mr Skittral was town clerk to Marlborough council for 16 years and the highlight of his council career was his involvement in granting the Freedom of Marlborough to the crew of the former Royal Navy Frigate HMS Marlborough.
John Radley, the first captain of the ship that was decommissioned in 2005 under defence cuts, was among the first to send condolences to the Skittrall family .
When the crew of the ship was awarded the Freedom of the town in 1996 Mr Skittrall’s role in the ceremony was to read the town’s 1204 Charter to the crowd, one of the proudest moments of his life said his wife, Anne.
Townspeople owe eternal gratitude to Mr Skittrall’s selflessness when a huge fire ravaged buildings next door to the council offices in High Street in 1998 but he ignored the inferno to go into his smoke-filled office to rescue the town’s pair of priceless 17th Century maces and the mayoral chain.
Mr Skittrall was the only town clerk in living memory to be a true Marlburian – born and bred in the town he loved.
In his youth he played football for Marlborough Town FC and cricket for the then Savernake (now Marlborough CC) Cricket Club of which he became a life member.
He was born in Isbury Road and is survived by his wife and two daughters, one sister Marjorie and older brother Geoff. Another sister, Rosemary, died in July.
He attended St Peter’s Boys School and the former Marlborough Grammar and he was a chorister in the St Peter’s and St Mary’s churches choirs.
From school he started work as a laboratory technician at Marlborough College and later worked for Wiltshire County Council’s Weights and Measures department before joining the former Marlborough coal firm DW Free and Sons as its manager.
After leaving Free’s he was invited to become the new town clerk and former councillor Derek Smithers, who was mayor at the time HMS Marlborough was given the freedom of the town, said: “He was a very well-liked town clerk who, because he grew up in the town, had the advantaged of knowing so much about the town and its people.”
Mr Skittrall played a major role in the expansion of Marlborough Golf Club with its course extending from nine to 18 holes and the building of its new clubhouse in 1991. Following this he was made an honorary life member.
As a boy he and his friends welcomed the arrival of US troops to Savernake Forest because it meant gifts of food, sweets and bananas that were otherwise impossible to obtain in war-torn Britain!
A keen gardener all his life, even in his final years when confined to a wheelchair, Mr Skittrall also kept an allotment for many years.
He was a member of the former Marlborough Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society taking part in many shows and he was a founder member of Marlborough Lions Club.
After retiring as town clerk he served on the former Kennet District Council and on the board of Sarsen Housing Association.
He loved horse racing and occasional trips to the Newbury race course and he loved listening to classical music and jazz on his “wireless”, never referred to by him as a radio his wife fondly recalled!
Mrs Skittrall said: “He was particularly fond of Louis Armstrong,” whose recording of ‘A Wonderful World’ will be the exit music at his funeral taking place on Thursday this week, December 14, 12 noon at St Mary’s Church.
Mr Skittrall was a dedicated family man who was proud of his daughters Rachel and Nicola, and his wife said: “In his latter years he was devoted to our two grandchildren Poppy and Stanley.”
Donations in his memory for Prospect Hospice and the Progressive Supranuclear Palsy Association can be sent to Claridge Funeral Service, Parade Mews, SN8 1NE.