As a LifeBook Memoirs editor, part of my role is to provide balance between the more exciting, action-packed chapters of a life story and those chapters which are perhaps calmer and less eventful. However, this was certainly not a concern when I edited The Life I’ve Built because Tony’s life has been extraordinary all the way through!
Seeing the world
Tony’s sharp wit and keen sense of humour are evident from the first page, as he describes his youthful years, his Dutch heritage and his father’s experiences fighting in the Second World War. As a young man, Tony decided that rather than head straight to university, he wanted to see the world. Clearly not one to do things by halves, he signed up for a VSO role based in the Solomon Islands, in the far reaches of the Pacific Ocean. I thoroughly enjoyed reading of his experiences fishing with homemade spear guns and helping to create local infrastructure.
Indeed, his experiences in building roads in the South Pacific would lead to a hugely successful career in the construction industry. Tony oversaw projects in Oman, Bahrain and the United Kingdom, including major developments in Birmingham, Manchester and central London. In this industry, the stakes are high and the characters are memorable, all of which made those chapters a riveting read.
In addition to his work in the Middle East, Tony found time to tour the desert in a Land Rover and start the Dilmun Folk Club, where he fostered his passion for performing live music. Other exploits include soccer, rugby, horse riding, skin diving and skiing – it seems there was rarely a quiet moment!
In between periods of work, Tony has walked across Peru from Cusco to Machu Picchu, and he has toured Italy, France and Costa Rica. The search for new horizons is a reoccurring theme in many chapters, and Tony’s LifeBook Memoir provided a wonderful opportunity to gather his adventures together while describing them in detail, accompanied by some truly fantastic photos. It is during these anecdotes that Tony’s appreciation for his family and friends really comes to the fore. I hope that those who received his book found it as entertaining and engaging as I did.
Written by Ben Creeth, LifeBook Memoirs editor