Memorial Service for Anthony Tootal
Monday 5 December 2005, Trinity College Chapel
Address by Luke Rittner
It would be someone with only the most tenuous link to Anthony who would be surprised at
the numbers who have gathered here at Trinity this afternoon to mourn his untimely death,
to give thanks for his life and to support his children and each other in our shared loss.
That so many of us should be so touched by his passing is a vivid testament to the full and
multi-faceted life that he led, as well as his unique capacity for friendship.

He was my closest and dearest friend. Anthony was born, the youngest of three children, in
Brazil where his father was then working. The family returned to England in 1953 and
settled in Kent where Anthony led a largely comfortable and happy childhood. Although
he showed early promise as a singer and musician, he always claimed not to have been
particularly happy at school – his strong dislike of energetic sporting activity of any kind
may well have had something to do with it.

His arrival here at Trinity as a Choral Scholar in 1966 was a turning point. He fell in love
with Cambridge and from them on I think he really felt it was home, though it was to be
some years before he returned to settle here. Anthony was not a big city man. He loved
Cambridge for its buildings and its setting. Though not strongly academic himself, he
loved college life. He loved the traditions and the customs, the sense of history. His years
at Trinity enabled him to indulge all his developing interests in music, opera, theatre,
architecture and literature, but it was music that seemed to be dictating the direction his
career might take after Cambridge.

In 1969, he worked as a volunteer on the Hintlesham Festival and through a contact there
he found himself engaged as a stage hand at the Bath Festival. I too had been engaged in
the same role at Bath and thus began a long, happy and close friendship. In 1970, we were
both given contracts by the Festival and we set about creating Bath’s first full time
administration. We shared a small office, desks facing each other, for seven years. I could
regale you for many hours with stories and anecdotes from those years – but I won’t.
Suffice it to say that Anthony’s wide knowledge and deep love of music endeared him to
both Michael Tippett and William Glock in their roles as successive Artistic Directors of
the Festival. Artists, performers and audiences all loved Anthony. His charm, tact,
diplomacy and humour made him a popular and much loved lynchpin of the Festival for
many years. At this time too his marriage to Jen brought him great happiness, as did the
arrival of Sam, the first of their four children, in 1973. This young, popular and rather
trendy, if impecunious, couple brought a splash of colour to Bath which was even then only
emerging from its rather staid and old-fashioned past. Anthony was the proud owner of a
canary yellow convertible Morris Minor. (At the time, it was the nearest his finances
would let him get to achieving his ambition to own a Morgan – an ambition he did achieve
years later to his enormous delight). Frequently Anthony would be seen, red bandanna at
his neck, driving through Bath with mountains of music stands or instruments in his car –
or even slightly bemused or fearful musicians as he sped them from rehearsal to concert.
Joan Sutherland famously hitched a lift from him when her chauffeur failed to turn up. It
was a challenge for the Morris Minor’s suspension.

In 1974, Anthony decided he needed to do two things. He wanted to spend more time with
his growing family (and in those days the expression meant exactly what it said) and he
needed to improve his financial situation. He decided for some inexplicable reason that the
hotel trade would suit him on both counts. He reasoned that if he and Jen worked in the
same hotel, they would see more of each other. He also harboured visions of eventually
buying some beautiful house which they could convert, live in and run as a country house
hotel. That way he could live in surroundings that would be out of reach other than by a
lucky break on his premium bonds. The family headed for deepest Herefordshire where it
took but a short time to discover that shift work meant they never saw each other and the
overheads of a service industry meant the pay was even worse than the music business.
They returned to Bath (much to the relief of all their friends) and Anthony joined Thea and
John Dupays as they opened what was to become the legendary Priory Hotel. Anthony had
still not found his niche and in 1977, he changed course completely and joined
Craigmyle’s, the fundraising consultants. Here his talents were better utilised. Working
on appeals for Wells Cathedral and Malvern Abbey, he was soon promoted to the
company’s head office at Buntingford. The arrival of Tom, Polly and Joe now meant that
Anthony was under greater financial strain and he decided, albeit rather late in the day, to
change direction again and get a qualification that would lead to a career that might finally
enable him to live slightly above the bread line. For two years, he studied law by
correspondence course while also directing fundraising for Craigmyle. That he was also a
devoted hands-on husband and father makes one wonder how on earth he found enough
hours in the day to do all this, but he finally qualified and soon joined the Cambridge firm
of Palmer Wheeldon.

At last Anthony was able to return to the city he loved. He also began to pick up the
threads of his musical interests. It was not however until 1995, when he joined the
Cambridge University Development Office, that he finally seemed to find a role that both
engaged him and really utilised, as we have heard from the Vice Chancellor, his enormous
personal qualities and experience. It is on those qualities that I want to close.

Anthony was a most loved man. He was loved as a father and as a son, as a brother, a
husband and a friend. His cruel illness triggered a quite extraordinary outpouring of
affection. Anthony and the family were literally inundated with letters, cards, flowers and
every kind of offer of help. As his condition worsened, there developed a support structure
that ensured he wanted for nothing. Meals appeared, cleaning, cooking and gardening were
done and a night shift ensured he was never alone unless he wanted to be. The love that
was heaped on him as his illness took its rapid toll can now be shared between us as we
battle to come to terms with the loss of such a dear friend.

Anthony did not accept his situation, but he bore the burden of his illness with enormous
dignity and I do not believe he ever complained, even in the face of his rapid progression
from a man in his prime and living life to the full to the indignities, suffering and total
dependence on others to which his illness reduced him with such cruel speed.

Today, difficult though it may be, we must look beyond our grief and be thankful for all the
qualities that made up this beloved man. Qualities which we may all have taken for granted
we now realise were so precious and so exceptional. We loved him for his capacity for
friendship, his love of the arts, of good food and wine. We loved him for his humour, his
sense of fun and for his total lack of side or pomposity. We loved him for his sense of
style; for his tact; his diplomacy; his kindness and his gentleness. Pushiness and stridency
were strangers to him and he was never one to hold a grudge – always preferring to forgive.

I for one will be forever grateful for the friendship of this beloved and glorious man who
lived, laughed, sang and walked with us for all too brief a time. A man who through his
sheer goodness and capacity for love and friendship has left us all better and richer people.
I mourn his passing and my world feels a bleaker place without him. May the angels keep
him safe and may he rest now forever in peace.

Luke Rittner
5th December 2005

  • Back to Anthony Tootal Home page