Obituary – Anthony William Gilbey, Lord Vaux

Lord Vaux
Lord Vaux

Obituary for Anthony William Gilbey, Lord Vaux of Harrowden - The death of a well-known and respected Gatehouse man.

Retired Dumfries & Galloway Councillor, Anthony William Gilbey, 11th Baron Vaux of Harrowden (known as Tony Gilbey and Tony Vaux) died suddenly and unexpectedly in Dumfries & Galloway Royal Infirmary on Tuesday 16th December 2014, aged 74, following a minor heart attack. He was buried on December 22nd in the vault of his family Chapel at Great Harrowden in Northamptonshire. A Thanksgiving service will be held on Saturday 7th February at 12 noon in the Church of the Resurrection in Gatehouse of Fleet.

Well-known both in Dumfries & Galloway and in Essex where he worked as an accountant in the family Wine Merchant Company, W & A. Gilbey in Harlow and, after a takeover, he set up a property development company and began his life-long involvement with politics and the Conservative Party. Tony Vaux’s great gift for getting on with people from all walks of life was nurtured at this time and especially, he had a wonderful, friendly relationship with all his employees – two of his farm workers at Rusko were awarded Stewartry Agricultural Society 30 year, long service medals. Tony Vaux was born in Surrey in 1940, educated at Ampleforth College and qualified as a Chartered Accountant (FCA) in 1963.

His connection with Dumfries & Galloway began in 1968 when he fell in love with and bought Rusko Estate in Gatehouse of Fleet. In 1980 the family moved to Gatehouse permanently to run the farm and develop a tourism business, Rusko Activity Holidays. Tony became deeply involved with the Conservatives in the Galloway and Upper Nithsdale constituency where he held the post of constituency Treasurer for several years (indeed he had recently taken up this post again and was Treasurer when he died) and then Chairman from 1990 - 1997 fighting and winning 2 elections with Ian Lang MP who became Secretary of State for Scotland. He was a Regional Councillor from 1994 – 1995 and then he was elected Dumfries & Galloway Councillor for Stewartry West in 1999, and after a successful term he was then re-elected in 2003. He was a very active, hard-working, and respected Councillor, well-known for his strong principles and firmly but always amusingly expressed views, working very closely with his great friend Ian Hamilton. His main interests and expertise were in the fields of health, especially the well-being of the elderly and in developing services for people suffering from Alzheimers Disease (his father suffered from this for 7 years giving Tony a great understanding of the problems involved), housing, education and all matters to do with the countryside and conservation. He even became Chairman of the Cockle Fisheries Board during his time as Councillor. He retired from the Council in 2007.

Tony Vaux was very much a country man; he was a founder member of the Galloway Fisheries Trust until his death, set up successfully to restore the fishing in the area which had been badly affected by forestry and acid rain. He was also Chairman of the Fleet River Board until his death. He developed a small, excellently run family shoot at Rusko and enhanced the fishing on Loch Ornockenoch and the River Fleet. His main winter hobby was picking up with his dog on a friend’s shoot and fishing was his summer passion. He was deeply interested in environmentally-friendly Hydro energy and had recently replaced the 1930s hydro turbine at Rusko with a modern version and installed a second turbine further up the valley. Tony Vaux was very much involved with the local community in his capacity as a Gatehouse Community Councillor, Chairman of the Mill on the Fleet Visitor Centre and a member of the Gatehouse Roman Catholic Church.

Tony Vaux inherited the title Baron Vaux of Harrowden from his father in 2002 and was proud of his ancient Catholic recusant family, so important and persecuted during the Reformation, whose faith he held deeply all his life. Indeed his Uncle, who held the title before his father, was the first Benedictine monk to sit in the House of Lords since the Reformation.

But despite being kept busy with farming, country pursuits and politics, Tony Vaux was very much a family man. He married his wife Beverley of 50 years in 1964 and they had 4 children and five grandchildren who all love being at Rusko during the holidays. Tony and Beverley greatly enjoyed travelling together and visited many countries including Australia, Brazil, Vietnam and Cambodia, U.S.A., Turkey, the Middle East, Africa and Europe. Their last trip together was to Florence and Rome in January 2014 to celebrate Beverley’s 70th birthday and their Golden Wedding Anniversary was celebrated with the whole family at Centre Parcs in June with a party in the south in July.

Paying tribute, Beverley said: “Tony’s home and family were the centre of his life and his great wisdom, kindness, love and honesty were the cornerstone of his whole being. He was full of prankish humour, warmth and charm and was loved by his many friends and all the people who worked with him, both in building and farming”.