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‘Wonderful supporter’: major equestrian benefactor dies aged 72

Tony Pidgley, a major supporter of British equestrianism and the founder of housebuilders Berkley Group, has died aged 72.

Born in 1947, Mr Pidgley was taken in by Barnardo’s before being adopted.

He left school at 15, forming his own haulage and plant hire company, which he sold aged 19 to Crest Homes, where he became a building director.

He founded Berkeley in 1976 and the company has grown to become one of the UK’s largest housebuilders and a FTSE100 business.

He advised governments on building and was appointed CBE in 2013 for services to the housing sector and community.

Mr Pidgley had a passion for horses and was a great supporter of British dressage along with his second wife Sarah (nee Hill) and the couple’s daughters, Annabella and Jessica. He also leaves behind two children from his first marriage, Tony Jr and Tania.

“Everyone at British Dressage (BD) would like to offer our sincere condolences to Sarah, Annabella and Jessica following the sudden death of their beloved husband and father Tony yesterday, Friday 26 June,” said a tribute from BD.

“Long-term dressage supporter Tony will be very much missed by all in the equestrian world as well as the construction sector, where he dedicated a lifetime of work.

“Multiple Paralympic gold medallist Sophie Christiansen was among those to pay tribute.

“My condolences are with the family of Tony Pidgley,” she said.

“I was honoured to be given the ride of their Rivaldo of Berkeley (Robin). Together we became double World Champions in 2010. Robin taught Clive Milkins and I an awful lot about how to manage such a talented horse.

“Tony shall be missed in the equestrian world and I shall be for ever grateful for his support.”

The War Horse Memorial, which remembers the contributions of service animals and raises money for horses in need today, also paid tribute to its “great benefactor and wonderful supporter of our cause”.

“We at War Horse Memorial remember him as a kind and generous man whose substantial donation enabled us to build Poppy, our national memorial to the horses, mules and donkeys who gave service and sacrifice in World War I,” read a tribute from the organisation.

“Poppy stands proudly in Ascot and we understand Tony, as a great horse lover himself, took delight in her presence but modestly was reluctant to acknowledge the huge part he had played in her construction.

“When the nation’s guides and brownies unveiled Poppy on June 8, 2018 Tony took his place in the line-up of dignitaries, ambassadors and friends laying wreaths at the feet of our wonderful monument, but wanted no special mention or accolade.

“He was a true friend and supporter and our thoughts are with his wife, Sarah and his children and family at this sad time.”

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