Anthony Charles Mullins 1946-2014
Anthony Charles Mullins, who was to become a soldier, sailor, and real life action man, was born on 7th July 1946. He grew up in the Eastney district of Portsmouth, and his sister Gillian recalls that as a youngster his school reports described him as "an earnest plodder", but at home he was full of mischief. Gillian and Tony were tasked with washing up after tea, which he managed to get out of eventually by breaking a few things, probably on purpose.
As a young man he became a keen cyclist, and on one occasion cycled to Cornwall on a camping holiday. It rained a lot, everything got soaked, and Tony came home on the train.
Gill also said that as a child he was always hungry, and he claimed that he never left the table until it was emptied of food. I can personally testify to the fact that his voracious appetite remained with him for the rest of his life - especially at Masonic Festive Boards, where he would use his undoubted charm on those serving to get extra portions onto his plate. Also if there was a chance of a spare dessert, Tony was the man for it.
At the age of 15, having already been a Royal Marine Cadet for 3 years, he became an Apprenticed Vehicle Mechanic at Arborfield Garrison - a long way from his home in Portsmouth. On the successful completion of that Apprenticeship in 1964 he transferred to the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.
He served in Cyprus, Germany, Libya, Malta, Kuwait and the UK, developing his skills and knowledge of armoured vehicles along the way.
Whist in the Army he was able to indulge his appetite for sports, and he was in the swimming, rugby and shooting teams for every unit to which he was attached. Whilst in Germany he also got into skiing and free-fall parachuting. He certainly was a real life action man.
He served in the Army for 25 years and 126 days, retiring as Warrant Officer First Class, and Artificer Sergeant Major.
It was while he was attending an Artificer Vehicles course in Tidworth that he met Wendy in August 1971. They married in the following year on 1st April, April Fools Day. A fact that Tony delighted in telling most of those he met.
After leaving the Army, Tony worked for the Ministry of Defence as a Defect Investigator for Heavy Armour - tanks to you and me. He followed that with a number of contracts on a technical and management level with various companies including Lufthansa, British Airways and an American company called InVision Technologies, who manufactured explosives detection systems for airports. His ability to speak German and Arabic helped him to secure some of those contracts.
His final role before retiring in 2011 was as a Lecturer at Henley and Newbury Colleges. I don’t know what stories he used to tell his students, but apparently many of them were convinced that he was a member of the SAS.
In addition to his working commitments, Tony served his local community as a Councillor for Bracknell Forest District Council and Warfield Parish Council for a total of 8 years; and in 1987 he joined the British Legion, taking on various active roles including Treasurer.
But Tony loved sailing, which he first took up in 1968 when he was able to sail with the Army Sailing Club whilst serving in Germany. However, it wasn't until 1998 that he was able to buy his first offshore sailing boat. Being the practical man that he was, he carried out most of the maintenance, repairs and improvements himself. Eventually of course, he wanted a bigger boat, and then an even bigger boat, finally working his way up to a Westerly Fulmar, his pride and joy, which he kept at Porchester Sailing Club, across the water from his childhood home.
Tony was initiated into Freemasonry in 1972 as a member of Solent Lodge in Portsmouth. Army postings precluded him from progressing in the Craft until after he retired from Military Service. He enjoyed his Freemasonry immensely, and joined a number of Lodges and side orders in the Masonic Provinces of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. He took an active role in all of those Orders, and became well known for the excellent and sincere manner in which he performed the Ceremonies, and also his knowledge of Freemasonry.
It is a testament to the high esteem in which he was regarded by his fellow Masons that so many attended his funeral in order to pay homage to a well respected Brother.
From what I have said so far, I am sure you can appreciate that Tony preferred to be actively involved in all that he did.
He was good company, and liked by all who knew him.
He held strong principles and beliefs. He led by example, setting himself high standards, but he also expected the same of others.
He had a zest for life, and if you met him and asked him how he was, the answer was usually an enthusiastic “Marvellous, thank you”.
He also had a great sense of humour and fun, and I’m sure that he wouldn’t mind if we raised a smile at his expense.
I have already given a brief outline of what Tony did and achieved in his life, but the thing he could not do, was sing. When he tried, anyone who was in close proximity, had to endure the flat, tuneless drone that passed for Tony's singing voice.
Ironically, he had a cousin who became an opera singer, but it seems that the singing gene missed his side of the family.
But most importantly he was a family man, and generous to those he knew and loved. He was married to Wendy for 42 years and extremely proud of their daughters, Nerissa and Catherine; and of course, the grandchildren whom he doted on, Brendan and Cassie.
A thousand words is not enough to do justice to Brother Tony's life. He will be sadly missed and fondly remembered by all those who knew him.
In his time he achieved so much, rising to eminence by merit, he lived respected, and died regretted.