Greg Hands, the Conservative MP for Hammersmith and Fulham, had been a fellow councillor of Antony's in Town Ward. As Greg said: "Antony reached out to people in a way that most politicians struggle to do, and was universally both loved and respected by both his political allies and opponents, and, more importantly, by those with no political affiliation at all."
The Council leader Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh said: "Antony was born and brought in Fulham and lived all his life in the borough. Much of his life was dedicated to public service and in particular, the children and elderly residents of the borough. Antony will be sorely missed across the council, in our local schools and by many groups in the community and voluntary sector."
Antony showed great courage in his short illness (he was only diagnosed with cancer a few weeks ago) sending good humoured emails to friends from his hospital bed. I earlier saw him show political courage in the Council Chamber. He was prepared to take tough decisions he believed to be right even if this meant some flack. For instance his responsibilities included grants to the voluntary sector which for many years had operated as a "closed shop" without new applicants being considered. Antony opened up the system so that grants were awarded on merit. Even though those who lost out would inevitably scream and shout. Similarly he was willing to take the decision to close bad schools.
The council officers liked him because he was on top of his brief, hugely dedicated and would take responsibility for what happened rather than passing the blame onto them.
Antony was about my age. His mother is still alive. I first knew him in the YCs about 25 years ago. Two months ago I was chatting to him on the roof of Hammersmith Town Hall as we waited for David Cameron to arrive to give a rousing speech. Antony was fizzing with jokes and ideas. He was Vice Chairman of the London Councils Grant Committee which hands out £28 million to voluntary groups and was going to write a piece for this blog about ensuring the money went to worthy recipients rather than politically correct lobby groups.
Now after a few days on holiday I return to discover he is dead. A terrible shock which hasn't really sunk in.