A family has paid tribute to a 'dearly loved' father of three after his sad passing earlier this month. 

Tony Mitchell died peacefully at age 86 on August 2, having spent his life living and working in Cumbria. 

Tony was born at Little Orton in 1936 to Joseph and Margaret Mitchell, living with his two older brothers Jasper and Bob. The family were farmers and Tony remembered the transition from working horses, which he loved, to tractors. He was very fond of animals throughout his life and hated to see cruelty or mistreatment.

He went to school in Little Orton and then to Carlisle Grammar School in the late 1940s. 

When young he developed his love of football and cricket. He went to football matches at Brunton Park including when Bill Shankly was manager and much later when his second son, David, became stadium manager.

At Gt Orton, while Mr Naylor was vicar, he took the leading part of Aegidius (later St Giles)in the Parish Play telling the story of St Giles and the deer. The photo of the cast with himself seated at the front hung in his bedroom for the rest of his life.

He left school at 16 and began work as a trainee accountant in the office of N T O’Reilly in Carlisle.

In the 1950s he was seconded to Hawes in Wensleydale for the best part of a year, where the firm had an office and where he got further training and experience.

It was here that he kind of had his James Herriot period, a young professional getting to know the farmers of the Dales and how to relate to them as clients. It stood him in good stead.

Tony helped found West Tyne Farmers in the 1960s. This was a monthly meeting for collective trading and mutual support for his farming clients. It ran for at least half a century.

In 1977 he and a close colleague,  Ken Davis, moved from N T O’Reilly to start their own accountancy business, Davis Mitchell Associates, first in Spencer Street then later in Chapel Street, before finally retiring in 2010.

There, over the years with his two large John Constable prints on the office wall, he served many appreciative clients so well, including WTF, Towers cinemas and bingo, Peter Tyson and many clients and from the farming and business community in Cumbria and west Northumberland.

Tony was also a Vice-President of the Blue-Faced Leicester Sheep Breeders Association based in Carlisle. He loved the contact with its members and was a huge help to the other officers

He met Celia Bowman when her father traced his schoolteacher from Grindon School near Hexham who had taught him at the end of the First World War - this was Margaret Baxter, Tony’s mother.

Tony and Celia were married in 1961 at St Peter’s Humshaugh, where Celia’s father was Headmaster.

They lived in Houghton for virtually the whole of their married life together and brought up three sons, Richard, David, and Christopher.

He loved his gardening, cricket, and football and keeping an eye on the ups and downs of the stock market. He could tell you what almost any listed company manufactured or dealt with.

Tony served on the Parent Teacher Association at Houghton School for a number of years in the 1970s.

He was also on the Village Hall Committee – and auditor for many years.

He was a Parish Councillor for Houghton and Kingmoor.

Tony and Celia became stalwarts of the North Cumbria Rock Garden Club from the 1980s - Tony served as a committee member, treasurer, programme organiser and latterly President, which he was honoured to fulfil. In all this he followed Celia’s interest in this area of alpine plants and became very knowledgeable himself.

Tony had eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild, born two months ago.

At last week's funeral, Tony's grandchildren said: "Grandad loved a joke.  He would entertain us for hours at family meals.  These story jokes could take quite a while and some of them were actually funny!!  His dinner would often need re-heated because they took so long! 

"As we got older Grandad was our ‘go-to’ adviser for all things financial, political, and global.  He certainly had strong opinions and values but, again, we listened and we learned a lot because Grandad had been there and done it.  He was the voice of experience and knowledge. 

"We only hope that we can live up to the example of love, strength, character and integrity that Grandad set for all of us."