A WELL respected and much loved family man and banker who touched many people’s lives throughout his life and career has died.

Tony Diaper lost his short battle with lung cancer on Monday, January 21 aged 85.

He lived in Hazel Close, Hadleigh for more than 40 years and founded Hadleigh Town Football Club. He also worked his way to the top of Barclays Bank and was manager of the Corringham branch until he retired in 1988.

His son Chris, 51, explained as a youngster he was part of a successful Hadleigh Junior School football team and his dad felt it would have been a shame for the squad to fall apart when they left, so he set up Hadleigh Town to enable the boys to still play together.

The club then developed to the point where there were six squads up and running, ranging from under 16s to adults.

Tony was born in Hatfield Peveral in 1928 and completed his national service in Carinthia, Austria, and got a taste for travel while he was there.

He married his wife Doreen in Brentwood in 1956 and they had two sons, Chris and John, 47, who are now directors of Hairways Hair and Beauty, which has branches in Basildon, Colchester and Enfield.

Tony was also a grandad to Chloe, 23, Hannah, 20, Jack, 17, and Alice, 15.

His death comes during what has already been a tough time for the family as Doreen died just six months ago aged 81.

Chris, from Billericay, said: “Dad seemed to go downhill a bit after that.

“We were both very close to him and he was supportive of both of us.

“He was really dedicated to his work and was well thought of, he was a father and friend to everybody and was still in touch with some of his customers from the bank.

“Some say without him they wouldn’t have got started in business. He was very genuine, there were no hidden agendas, he really wanted to help people.”

A keen photographer and Southend United fan, Tony could always be found behind a camera, rather than in front of one. He was also a member of the Orsett Agricultural Group, which is heavily involved in the popular Orsett Show.

Up until two months ago he was also still helping John and Chris out with their business.

Chris added: “He would have gone bonkers being at home all the time so he would work part time with us and said when he came in to work he came alive because he was part of a team again.

“The staff would all make a fuss of him.”

Mr Diaper’s funeral will be held at Southend Crematorium on Wednesday, January 30 at 12pm.

Family flowers only, but donations can be made to Little Havens Children’s Hospice through Stibbards and Sons, in Hadleigh.