Tony J. Drake MBE 1923-2012
The intrepid Tony, a friend to many, was a lifelong hiker and devoted rambler. His love of freedom was deeply engrained. He was out canoeing on the Mediterranean at 16 when he was advised of the outbreak of the War. At 18 he volunteered to join the Royal Airforce and became a radar technician. Tony was always at his element in the open countryside or climbing mountains. He would also walk the urban footpaths and carried with him a pruning tool removing any stray brambles or branches that impeded any highway. Extraordinarily dedicated, Tony attended several committees and guided many organisations regarding good practices. His input was very much responsible for the development of the ‘Definitive’ mapping of footpaths. He was Footpath Secretary to the Gloucestershire Ramblers from 1952 until his retirement in 2008.
I luckily became acquainted with Tony in his later years. We were founder members of the Gloucestershire Local Access Forum. Both living in the Park area of Cheltenham, I was able to drive him to many destinations. I was fortunate to receive his always wise advice regarding the highways and byways of Gloucestershire and beyond.
This is not the place to describe the many surveys and publications that Tony wrote or was responsible for. Suffice it to say that he was dedicated to the good of all who treasured the freedom of walking in England and Wales. He was a campaigner for ‘White roads’ correct bridges and most particularly ‘stiles’ over which he developed a ‘British Standard’.
Country walking October 2023