Tony Berry was the oldest of the three Berry brothers to pass through the School between 1938 and 1947; Tony arriving in 1938, after transferring from Quakers Yard County School when the family moved from Merthyr Vale to Aberaman. He was born in August 1924, the son of Herbert Lendon Berry, himself a past pupil of the school (1910 - 1914). The family eventually settled in Tudor Terrace near the school. Tony can be seen in the photograph of the School choir and orchestra, playing second violin in the 1941 performance of Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast. The second brother, Brian, was singing in the second sopranos.
Tony is down in the programme as A P Berry, which was a combination of his initials that he did not normally use. His full name was Richard (after grandfather Richard Lewis Berry), Anthony (from which he was always called Tony), Protheroe (his mother’s maiden name) Berry, giving him the initials of R A P Berry.
On entering Form 5 alpha, Tony, who was very neat and meticulous, printed RAP Berry on the outside covers of all the exercise books he had been given. Sadly for him, a day or two later a rather cruel humorist went through them all, putting an aberrant S into each of them, making it RASPBerry, which Tony did not find at all amusing. Indeed, from then on he never wrote his name as RAP, but usually put either Richard A, or occasionally Richard A P or R A.
Academically he was by far the best scholar of the three brothers, and sailed through the School always being in the top three in his form. After passing his School Certificate examinations Tony went to Treforest School of Mines then to Swansea University where he achieved a BSc honours degree, specialising in Mathematics.
He then went into REME, the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, for his National Service, two years that every young man had to serve in the armed forces, where he obtained a commission.
After his demobilisation Tony joined the civil engineering firm
of Gee Walker and Slater, for whom his father was working, but after a couple of years
he left Gee’s to join the Air Ministry, quickly specialising in airfield surfaces.
With the advent of bigger and heavier aircraft Tony travelled the country assessing
thicknesses of runways to ensure their suitability for heavier planes to land.
At about the time that the first Jumbo jet had arrived on the scene Tony had written a manual on his specialty, and was being sent to various countries to assess their airfields for the possible landing of Jumbos. Because many of the airfields he surveyed were still under the command of the air force, he was given the rank of Wing Commander.
In the photograph of him in his tropical uniform he can be seen to be wearing World War 2 medal ribbons. Through most of the war years he had served as a messenger, riding his bicycle to the central wardens’ post for Aberdare every time a nighttime air raid warning siren sounded, to be ready to take messages speedily wherever necessary. This involved his being out several nights every week during those years. For this duty he was given the wartime medals.
For his tours in the Middle East he was usually based either in Aden or in Cyprus, where he was able to have his family living with him until the children were of school age, when they all returned home to live in Surrey, very close to his younger brother Brian’s home. Less than a year after the death of his brother Brian’s wife, in 1973, Tony was sent on a duty to Cyprus, where he was taken ill and died in the military hospital there, giving the family two tragedies within a year.
Tony’s widow, Kathleen, still lives in the family home in Surrey (2009).