Friends pay tribute to 'Mr Chesterton'
TRIBUTES are flooding in for a 'magical' youth worker who spent more than 35 years supporting young people.
Affectionately known as 'Mr Chesterton', Tony Elsby was still working as a volunteer in the months before his death.
Now friends and family are bidding a final farewell to the grandfather-of-two, who spent three decades as a leader at Chesterton Youth Club.
Meanwhile, hundreds have joined a Facebook page to share their fond memories of the 76-year-old.
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His son Ian Elsby, a former Port Vale footballer, said: "He lived for helping the kids and always put everyone before himself – that's just how he was."
Tony, a former sheet metal worker, first joined Chesterton's youth club in 1972 before becoming the centre's leader.
Despite retiring in 2002, the pensioner, who was awarded an MBE for his services to young people in the same year, continued to volunteer at both the club and Chesterton Community Sports College (CCSC) where he ran gardening sessions.
Father-of-two Ian, aged 52, of Clayton, a care worker, added: "He had a mini-stroke in the summer but that didn't stop him and even earlier this month he was at the club taking part in boxing sessions.
"I think through the work he did he inspired a lot of people."
Tony, of Bradwell, who was also involved in the Newcastle branch of Ladsandads, suffered a heart attack on February 13 and passed away later that day at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire.
Stuart Lee, of Westlands, handed Tony his first job at the youth club in 1972. The 74-year-old, who was youth leader between 1969 and 1975, said: "It was unbelievable the way everybody responded to him. He was magical at what he did and totally unique.
"It was astonishing the way that he could deal with everybody and he had so much respect."
A former member of the Staffordshire Association of Clubs for Young People, Tony ran a series of sporting activities in Chesterton including football and boxing.
Current Chesterton youth worker Martin Wynne says Tony was an inspiration to him.
The 38-year-old of Milehouse, a teacher at CCSC, said: "It was Tony who told me about a job going at the school 15 years ago. He always considered other people rather than himself.
"I started at the youth club when I was eight and when I was older he gave me a job. He was a real inspiration."
Writing on the Facebook page R.I.P Tony Elsby, Christopher Gray said: "If just one of us grows up to be like you, then the world will be a better place."
An evening reception will be held at the Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Newcastle at 5.30pm today. A requiem mass will take place the following morning from 10am. An internment will then be held at Keele Cemetery.
Donations should be made to the North Staffs Heart Committee.