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News > Deaths & Obituaries > HOLCOMBE, Anthony John (Tony)

HOLCOMBE, Anthony John (Tony)

You are warmly welcomed to leave a message below, share your memories, and celebrate the life of Tony Holcombe who we sadly lost in 2018.

The following obituary was written by Martin King (CR 75-98)

I knew Tony as a Modern Linguist over many years in Old Judd at Tonbridge. I enjoyed his warm, enthusiastic, and invariably friendly company, but, though I knew of his ornithological expertise, I neither shared it nor expected to have any first-hand knowledge of it. This changed, however, in 1988, when our paths crossed unexpectedly in the small Pyrenean town of Jaca in northern Spain. I was on a recce for a trip I intended to make the following year with Bill Burn and an A level Spanish group to investigate some of the Ebro Valley battle grounds in the Spanish Civil War. One could do that in those days. I discovered Tony was also going to be in Jaca leading a small bird watching party and agreed to meet him one evening when I was passing. He taught French and Russian at Tonbridge but had a working knowledge of several other languages and would have had no problem in ordering the cerveza (or two) and tapas that we enjoyed in his hotel. He generously invited me to join his trip next day.  So a group of about half a dozen avidly keen twitchers, binoculars and cameras and maybe a bird book or two at the ready, and me, who could just about tell a robin from a blackbird, set off in a small mini-bus into the mountains. Various birds flew in and out of sight, not raising much interest, but suddenly the mini-bus screeched to a halt and all the twitchers clambered out, pointing skywards at what to me looked like a large grey smudge circling above them. To them, though, it wasn’t a smudge but a rare bird that really shouldn’t have been there and justification of Tony’s inspiring leadership and knowledge in having enabled them to see it. Next day I continued on my way to the Ebro with an enhanced appreciation of the intense exhilaration that bird watching can create. Tony will have explained to me, though I can’t remember now, what the bird was, but I do know it was neither a robin or a blackbird. Thank you, Tony, for the experience.

Tony joined Tonbridge in 1971, as a teacher of Modern Languages and Master i/c of the Natural History Society. Leaving Tonbridge in 1976 to join St Olave’s Grammar School, Tony returned to the Modern Languages Department in a part time capacity in 1978 until he retired in 1995.

Tony led expeditions for ‘birders’ all over the world.  He was a world expert in this area and very highly regarded. It was on one of these trips that he met his future wife and they married in later life.

Tony died in September 2018, aged 83. 

(CR 71-76 / 78-95)

 

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