“His love and wisdom will be sorely missed” - Family pays tribute to Halifax businessman Tony Gartland

Tony GartlandTony Gartland
Tony Gartland
The family of Halifax businessman Tony Gartland have paid tribute to him after his death at the age of 79.

A native of Halifax, where he lived all his life, he was the son of a firebrand trade unionist who, despite his background, clawed his way on to The Sunday Times rich list. His father would have turned in his grave had he seen the capitalist his son had become, he reflected in a 1987 interview.
Mr Gartland studied geology at A-level and went to Sheffield University, becoming, as he put it, good at bridge and not much else.
He spent his first working years on building sites and labouring, before taking a white-collar post at Heinz in London.
But it didn’t last and he was soon back in Halifax as works accountant for Process Units, which made controls for commercial laundries, eventually changing its name to Fisher Kar-Park Industries and switching to producing parking meters.
By 1973 he was a director, and became one-third of a team that led a management buyout of the company.
In the years that followed it embarked on a takeover spree, buying, amongst others, the leading UK engineering group, Babcock International, for £427m. The enlarged company became FKI Babcock, with a combined turnover of more than £1.3bn. Mr Gartland became chief executive, with the British Airways boss Lord King as chairman.
He stepped down in 1989 and with his former FKI partner Jeff Whalley embarked on a series of global company buyouts.
The pair formed the Halifax-based Gartland and Whalley Securities, later amended to Gartland, Whalley and Barker after another FKI colleague, James Barker, joined them. They specialised in buying run-down companies, turning them round, and selling them on.
At the same time, Mr Gartland thrust himself into community work, serving in the hierarchy of the Lord Lieutenancy of West Yorkshire, Business in the Community, the Prince of Wales’ Youth Business Trust, Calderdale and Kirklees Training and Enterprise Council, and becoming a founding board member of the Eureka Children’s Museum.
He had a long association with Halifax Rugby League Club and stood down as chairman in 1995 to become non-executive director.
In 1998 he was named Yorkshire Businessman of the Year.
He was married to Anne from 1964 until her death in 2008 and is survived by his four children, 10 grandchildren and his second wife, Sheila Kenyon, whom he married last year.
In a statement, his family told the Courier: “For a man who achieved so much he was modest to the core.”A straight-talking Yorkshireman without pretence, he was just ‘Tony’ to everyone he met.

”Having led a full and varied life, there was always an amusing anecdote ready to be shared with an affable wit that charmed everyone he met.

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”He was a wonderful dad and doting grandad. When the four of us children were growing up, we all had parties at home with dad single-handedly entertaining a horde of kids, hanging on his every word, playing ‘Simon says’ and ‘musical statues’.

”When work took him abroad he returned laden with presents and was generous with his guidance and support throughout his life.

”His love and wisdom will be sorely missed.”

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