Anton Barber, a resident at Brendoncare Froxfield, celebrated his 100th birthday with family, friends and staff at the care home in Marlborough.
Anton was born on 9 March 1920 in Birkenhead, and spent much of his early childhood in Switzerland, whilst his father was recuperating from tuberculosis. When Anton and his family returned to UK they resided in Bidborough Ridge, Kent, near Tunbridge Wells.
At the age of 10, Anton was sent to a preparatory school in Hove, Brighton and then to Marlborough College where he boarded in Barton Hill House. His hard work was rewarded with a place at Clare College Cambridge to read History and French (1938-40).
Anton’s studies were interrupted by WWII. He said, “While Chamberlain was negotiating the Munich Agreement, my brother, Pat, and I were looking down on Widecombe Church Tower from the heights of Dartmoor – a year later war was declared.”
Following some initial training on anti-aircraft guns, Anton was posted to India. He was then sent on to the North East Frontier, fighting the Japanese for over four years. Anton also got into a teaching role where he taught his unit about further education and current affairs.
He was later posted to the front line in Burma where he was to spot for field guns. Due to a leg injury, he was sent back to India, and whilst recuperating, he found a supply of books to read.
He was allowed back to England in 1945, so he continued with his studies at Clare College Cambridge where he gained his degree with a first class Honours.
In 1946 Anton was appointed French teacher at Maidstone Grammar School and then spent two terms teaching French at Eton College.
During his time at Maidstone he met his future wife, Ben, and in preparation for marriage to Ben, a Roman Catholic, Anton converted to the Catholic faith and they married in 1948.
Anton and Ben spent a year living in Paris, in the Latin Quarter where Anton worked as a teaching assistant. He remarked, “This must have been the most carefree period of my life.”
When they returned to UK, they lived in Bedford and he taught at Bedford School before moving to Richmond, Surrey in 1962.
From 1962 Anton taught French at University College School (UCS) in Hampstead, where he continued working for 20 years. He was responsible for introducing ‘Voluntary Service’ for the boys who disliked sport (as Anton did!).
Later, Anton retired to Hungerford, Berkshire where he was involved in the Liberal Democratic Group, Save the Children group, the National Autistic Society and a peace group. He joined local interfaith discussion groups and became very interested in environmental theology and the Green movement.
Anton also became involved in helping the Croatian refugees who had been brought over from the war zone in the former Yugoslavia. Much of the work he did was, along with others, trying to persuade the then Home Secretary, Michael Howard, to allow the Croatians to stay and to get citizenship in England. This, in the end, was successful!
In 2002 Anton’s wife, Ben, had a stroke, and she moved to Brendoncare Froxfield, where she lived until she died in 2007. Anton, continued living in Hungerford until he moved into Brendoncare Alton in 2018.
Brendoncare Froxfield, between Hungerford and Marlborough, is a nursing home which caters for 44 residents and includes a specialist 11 bed dementia care household. Froxfield has been specifically designed to enable older people to live independent, happy and fulfilling lives.
More information about Brendoncare Froxfield can be found on the charity’s website http://www.brendoncare.org.uk or by telephoning 01488 684916.