Fox Archers' Tony Bates Junior Tournament

Fox Archers will be holding an open junior tournament on 12 September 2010 in honour of Tony Bates.

Tony was born on 24 May 1945 and has been quite excited about receiving his pension in May!!! He was a fundraising manager for the PDSA for the South East of England, organised volunteers and managed four of their Animal Hospitals.

His two sons Russell and Rob were pupils at Wilderness School, Sevenoaks (home of Sennocke Archers) and he joined their Board of Governors in 1973, serving as their chairman until 2003. He was presented with a special award at Maidstone in 2003 for his long service and dedication to the school.

He took up Archery in 1987 with Fox Archers, who were then based at the Anthony Roper School in Eynesford. In the course of his 'travels' he met one of the Teachers of St Michael's School, Otford and after negotiation with the Head, Fox moved to its present location in 1997. The field took his breath away as it is surrounded by around 3000 different trees that were collected by a Victorian Trader from all over the world.

Tony said that he only ever achieved a 3rd class classification, but couldn't seem to get any further - as he says 'There was no real coaching in those days - you just got on with it'.

Tony Bates. Not known.

Tony became Chairman of the Club in 1997 and continued in this post until he was taken ill in 2006. In May of that year he was struck down by a virus which invaded the top of his spine - this caused severe problems and eventually he was completely paralysed from the neck down and had to use a ventilator for a lot of the time.

He was treated initially at the Princess Royal Hospital, Farnborough (Kent) and was in their ICU for 6 months - he holds the record for spending the longest time on the unit. From there he moved to the Sisters of the Holy Cross Hospital in Haslemere, Surrey. He has only the highest praise for the staff of both of these units - they were absolutely wonderful people.

After a while at the Holy Cross he took up painting with his mouth and now receives instruction twice a week from Cilla Holbeche. He pays for the instruction and materials himself, but is now a member of the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists Organisation, who pay him a monthly stipend.

He has now sold quite a few of paintings and one of them will exhibited at the Mayor of London's (Boris Johnson) office later in the year. Tony's last words on that subject were 'When I am dead make sure you keep hold of my paintings - they could be worth millions!!!'

Snow scene from a mouth-painting by Tony Bates. Not known.
Christmas card from a mouth-painting of a shepherd and flock by Tony Bates. Not known.

A couple of times a year he organises Have-a-Go afternoons at the Hospital for the staff and patients - and the members of Fox Archers are happy to do this for a man that they quite obviously hold in the highest regard and affection.

So this year they will be holding a junior tournament, which they have named in his honour; the competition rounds available will be the Albion and Windsors, according to gender and age. Tony is hoping that by then he will be off his ventilator for periods of about 8 hours at a time - if this does work out, he would dearly love to attend and to give out the prizes. Part of the profit from the tournament will be used to provide art materials to help Tony continue to develop his new-found talent.

Then to round off the day and make a social occasion of it, there will also be a barbeque afterwards for everyone and this is

d in the tournament entry fee - BUT, parents and other non-competitors will be asked to pay £2.