Tribute to Anthony Molloy

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We were saddened to hear of the recent passing of one of our kindest and longest supporters, Anthony Molloy. Please see below tribute to Anthony, from our founder Gina Long MBE… 

Leon, thank you for inviting us to talk today, it’s a great honour. You added so much happiness to Anthony’s life. As your relationship grew, it was clear to see the utter devotion you each had for one another. Andrew and I saw Tony the happiest he had been. He was so proud of you.

I stand here beside Ian, Tim,  Mark and Neal as we proudly unite in representing friendship and the incredible, inspiring charity work of Anthony, our beloved ‘Tony Molloy.’

In life, we all meet many people, many different people and for all of us here, there was a time and a place where we each were lucky enough to meet Tony Molloy.

Tony came into our life ten years ago, it was of course through him giving and supporting my charity that our paths crossed.

At the time I had created an online global charity auction, it was in aid of my dear family friend the late great Sir Bobby Robson. Anthony had purchased several of the prizes – that would have been enough for most people to give in such a generous way. But oh no…..that would never been enough for Tony.

He called to tell me how much Sir Bobby Robson meant to him, hence supporting me and how he wanted to offer more support.

He asked if having great seats at Manchester United Football Club on the halfway line, with full hospitality to any game a few times a year including any Champions League games would be helpful in raising more money?

After picking myself up off the floor, I replied, well yes having a prize like that would help enormously. I asked, but what’s the catch? So many thoughts were racing through my mind, how can this person be real? Things like this don’t just happen unless something is expected in return.

10 years on, I soon realised, there was, of course, no catch at all. Nothing was expected in return.

Tony’s generosity of spirit and generosity to charity and friends knew no bounds.

In life, it is said you’re lucky if you have four or five people whom you can truly call a friend. And you can share any thought you have, enjoy their company, be parted and separated, come back together again and pick up right where you left off. They’ll forgive your faults and affirm your virtues. Tony Molloy had so many great friends, he was one of those people for me and for so many of us here today.

Tony told it like it was. Friendship and charity were the main foundation of Tony’s life, he was also so very proud of Paul Baxter and their business Corptel too. Always explaining, how, it’s because of the success of Corptel that he could do what he loves doing for charity.

It was through Tony that I met the magnificent world-renowned sculptor Shaun Brosnan and later I introduced Tony to Ben Mosley, an artist that Tony and Leon loved. Shaun and Ben shared a powerful synergy with Tony, each of them beyond generous in all they do support many charities, inevitably whenever Shaun or Ben donated a work of art to mine or the many other charities, it was Tony who insisted on buying it.

Last year Tony and Leon were unable to attend a major fundraiser for my charity in Suffolk, but that didn’t stop him being there. When the bidding started for Ben Mosley’s ‘live painting’, it quickly got up to £15,000. It was then I saw another friend making telephone bids from my table…………..I was so confused, who was Duncan bidding for?

At one stage I took the phone and heard Tony’s voice. I pleaded with Tony to please stop bidding – it’s already at £15,000 in the room. He was having none of it and told me in no uncertain terms to give the phone back to Duncan. That was Tony through and through. It was of course Tony, who ended up being the winning bidder of Ben’s painting.

A friend’s love or kindness is not an easy to put into words. Nor is loyalty, or trust, or joy. But Tony was all of these. He loved life completely and he lived it intensely.

Throughout Tony’s charity giving and supporting he always tried to engender a social conscience. He didn’t want to ‘just donate’, he truly cared about the charities he was so passionate about and the people whose lives he would help change.

Ian Green CEO Terrence Higgins Trust

I feel honoured and privileged to have been invited to pay tribute to Tony Molloy on behalf of Terrence Higgins Trust, the UK’s leading HIV and sexual health charity.

Tony was a passionate, committed and dedicated supporter of the charity for almost 15 years. He regularly attended our events throughout the year with Leon and was very generous with his support. He hosted Supper Club tables, always pledged at the Friends Dinner and bought countless auction lots.

I first met Tony three years ago at our charity auction at Christie’s, and I was immediately struck by his warmth, compassion and joyfulness. He was passionate about the cause – ensuring that people living with HIV were supported as they journey with the virus, and in eliminating new HIV transmissions.

He was a real gentleman and we all enjoyed spending time with him. He didn’t just sit on the side lines. He introduced new donors such as artist Ben Mosley to our events and he had a long standing friendship with Shaun Brosnan who has been a long term donor to the auction and supporter of THT.

The team – Bryony and Alastair in particular – were devastated to hear the news as they had only been speaking to him the previous week to discuss his and Leon’s attendance at the Auction. The auction was held on Monday when I had the sad task of informing his THT friends of his untimely death. Despite the sadness we had a great night raising money for the charity as I know that is what Tony would have wanted. However, the room had lost just that bit of sparkle which was Tony Molloy.

We will miss him and we send our love to you Leon – but we will continue to do the work we do as a living legacy of one of our dearest friends and supporters.

Tim Sigworth MBE Albert Kennedy Trust

Tony, as we called him, walked into the Albert Kennedy Trust’s (AKT) life almost nine years ago and from that moment played a key role in transforming our little charity. Through his love and financial support, he made AKT strong and capable of helping so many more young people in crisis across greater Manchester and indeed across the country than we had ever dared hope to reach before. Thousands of young people are still rejected and abused by their parents just for being brave enough to come out to them – and that’s why AKT exists, to provide them with safe homes and better futures. Tony totally identified with these young people and immediately came to our help. In helping us, he prevented lifetimes of homelessness for many thousands of young people in need. We often referred to Tony as our Guardian Angel, because he was always there when we needed him most. With a donation, or his time, support and advice, he constantly helped us transform young people’s lives across Manchester. You may not know this, but it was Tony who made sure AKT opened the first safe house for LGBT young people in Manchester. He took AKT from a small charity into a national organisation – he was no passenger on our journey.

He was a mentor to members of our team and indeed to me – he knew how to support  people to help them grow. What I took away from Tony’s advice was that the number one priority of a leader is to treat the people around you well; affording your employees the care, loyalty and respect you would give to a family member or loved one – he understood people in a quiet and compassionate way. He could also be tough on me, when I needed it. He didn’t let you give up or be soft on yourself when you needed to be strong. And of course there was the ‘Molloy look’ – the badly disguised, slightly raised eyebrows accompanied by startled expression, trying not to smile or laugh – which you could see straight through, which you knew meant he was thinking ‘I know you are telling me a load of bull or that idea of yours is pure rubbish and you know it!’

Personally, he was a friend to me when I needed him most. When I lay critical ill in hospital in London three years ago, with no family around me and relying on my friends, he kept me company after visiting hours finished, even though he was 165 miles away; with phone texts of support filled with care and positivity. I can’t tell you how much I needed Tony’s strength when I really wanted to give up in hospital.

And that brings me to Leon – the perfect match for Tony. Through Leon, the warmth, humanity and love Tony showed towards so many people will live on. Thank you Tony and Leon for restoring so many young people’s faith in people after their families have deserted them. And finally thank you to all of you who have donated to the appeal Leon set up last week. Tony I am sure would feel proud of you for carrying on the work he felt passionately about – helping young vulnerable and rejected young people get the start in life they deserve! The world has lost a shining, brilliant light and Tony you will not be forgotten by the many lives you made better.

Mark Fletcher Manchester Pride

Having learned of the impact that our charity has throughout Greater Manchester, Tony made clear to us that his support was always available. In fact, he became one of the kindest spirited bidders at our Spring Benefit, always sure to set the pace and encourage fundraising camaraderie.

On a personal note, I had the pleasure of talking to Tony on a number of occasions and it became clear to me that one of passions in life was to give back, and to encourage others to feel free to live their lives. His generosity was not only evident through his philanthropy but also through his words. I will always remember a long and candid telephone conversation that we had. I was struck by how much time he was happy to take out of his day to offer valued feedback and professional encouragement.

He did this without the requirement for any recognition or reward. I seldom encounter this level of selflessness in my work. Tony was a gentleman and will remain inspiration.

Neal Sharpe George House Trust

I recently received a message from a former colleague who had heard that Tony had passed away.  It’s a few years since Susie left George House Trust, but she recalled Tony with great fondness.  She told me ‘he was such a lovely, genuine man. I used to love phone calls with him when we’d put the world to rights’.

I can vouch for that, there were a few occasions when I had to reshuffle the day’s to-do list after a lengthy call with Tony.  It was pleasure to have to.

Susie continued: ‘He was a wonderful man, self-made yet never losing sight of how lucky he was to be in his position.  “A proper working-class Northerner!”

Despite his busy diary, Tony made several visits to George House Trust; he had lost friends to HIV in the 80s and, as a fighter for social justice, he was always interested to learn more about our work and would meet with service users, who were able to talk openly to him about living with HIV.

Tony was the most amazing and modest of men. A true philanthropist who did not wish to draw attention to himself when he was doing so much for others – and that is rare.

Our CEO Steph remembers Tony sharing the judging responsibility a couple of years ago at our service user Christmas party’s ‘George House Trust’s Got Talent’ contest. Of course, we’re talking about Tony, so it wasn’t a Christmas Party – it was a Festive Fandango!  What Steph particularly remembers is Tony’s kindness and respect for every contestants’ endeavours, no matter what their talent was!  He embodied George House Trust’s values; he was a kind and thoughtful man. This was evident in his generous support to our destitute, most vulnerable, service users at Christmas, this made such a difference to them.

Tony’s support of our work was longstanding and extensive – in person at our Gays of Manchester Calendar exhibition launch, sponsorship of our Drag Ball and, more recently, our Autumn Gala, or through his generous donations of prizes to our Friends of George donor programme. Even indirectly, through our supporters’ events, including the near-infamous House of Mint’s parties.

There are people living with HIV, abandoned young homeless gay people and many others who have benefitted directly from his charity work.

As Susie also said ‘if there’s such a thing as Heaven, Tony and Darren from AKT will be having the biggest party imaginable!’

Tony, you will be missed by so many and it was a privilege to have met you.

On behalf of everyone at George House Trust – staff service users and volunteers – who you referred to as the real heroes – thank you Tony for being a Friend of George.

Gina Long MBE

As we have heard Anthony ‘Tony’ Molloy was a great man though he often described himself as ‘an ordinary’ man. Often the stories of greatness that we find most inspirational are those of people who were ‘ordinary’ but they did something extraordinary.

The truth is we are all ordinary – and the legacy that Tony has left us with, is to follow in his footsteps, of living a life as an extraordinary human being, one who did so many extraordinary things.

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