Obituary: Anthony Foord
Wednesday 19 November 1997
On 24 October, with faultless timing, Anthony Foord died at 82 from a heart attack during the interval in a Haydn and Britten concert he was greatly enjoying at Snape Maltings.
Precision was one of the valuable characteristics that marked Foord's long and fruitful life. The entries in his RAF Pilot's Logbook, between April and August 1941, describe in the briefest matter-of-fact way the outward and homeward events during 27 raids into Hitler's Europe, from all of which he and his crew returned unscathed in their often flak-scarred Wellington. They show that this tall, genial, deeply generous man had qualities of endurance, courage and unwavering determination.
These regularly resurfaced in his support of everything worthwhile and civilised in local affairs in Suffolk, where he moved in 1962: in 10 years as a county councillor, as Chairman of the Suffolk Preservation Society, in his constant encouragement of the new Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich, and of the work of the Britten-Pears School and the Aldeburgh Foundation's education department. There was nothing "parochial" about Tony Foord's services to Suffolk.
After Harrow he worked at the Law Society exams in 1938, but decided (in the spirit of Patrick Leigh Fermor's A Time of Gifts) to use a small legacy to see Europe. He studied German in a monastery, and at Bayreuth saw the Fuhrer.
He was an early member of Glyndebourne: in June 1938, he corresponded with John Christie about the chances of becoming a manager there. Christie thought no Englishman could aspire to such a post. Foord left Switzerland on the last train, reaching London on the day Chamberlain declared war.
By the time he had trained as a fighter pilot, the Battle of Britain had been won, but the Blitz was raging. On 3 September 1940, Churchill told the Cabinet, "The bombers alone provide the means of victory", and, thinking of Rotterdam, and London, they made the understandable but erroneous "total war" assumption that "the civilian population around the target areas must be made to feel the weight of war". Foord's logbook faithfully illustrates the point from his own operations, the first of which was on Kiel on 7 April 1941. "Huge fires: defences apparently exhausted." His rear gunner's log added: "Entire area in flames, which was successfully bombed."
In his 15th operation, over Essen, his plane was very badly hit, and he crash-landed at Stradishall, his first serious impact on Suffolk. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for gallantry and devotion to duty. Later he served as Liaison Officer with a Czech bomber squadron, was promoted Squadron Leader, and was twice mentioned in despatches.
After the war, he practised in Westminster as a solicitor, with work in Town and Country Planning, and Rent Restriction. In 1948, he was adopted as Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for Brixton, enjoyed getting to know the constituency, but failed to win it. He then joined the money-brokers Long, Till and Colvin. Their business took off, partly because Foord ran it so well and partly because this was the right time, when R.A. Butler was giving local authorities powers to raise money in the City, and more or less instructing them to do so.
In the City, in 1947, Foord became a Liveryman in the Turners' Company. He later, in 1970, distinguished himself as its Master. He was punctiliousness in supporting the craft and its charities, supplying wood and lathes to the disabled, and working with engineers in the modern application of the craft.
In 1957, he married Judith Greenacre, whose family lived at Rendham in Suffolk. When they moved to live in Nettlestead, most of his energies were switched to the county. On the East Suffolk County Council, he was listened to as "a sound financial brain". When they joined the Suffolk Preservation Society, he and Judith immediately took part in making visual surveys of the town centres and in scheduling listed buildings; as the society's chairman in the crucial years 1973-76, he helped organise watchdogs in the new District Planning Committees and established the society's first full-time salaried director.
He also hived off, as a separate group, the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust. In aid of this, he and his wife, with John and Julia Henniker, conceived and planned the annual sponsored bike-rides round the county's churches and chapels - Suffolk has a high density of medieval churches. Last September, Suffolk cyclists in one day raised a record pounds 132,000: they have been a source of valuable emulation among other counties.
Foord's Suffolk commitments never slackened, but nor did he reduce his devotion to opera at Glyndebourne, for instance, or to Assisi. Ten years ago, his feeling for the Catholic religion revived, and he took instruction from the local Franciscan brothers. He regularly visited Assisi, and at the time of his death was distressed by the news of the destructive earth tremors there.
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