TONY Hickson, a successful Hull businessman, patron of music and larger than life character, has died at the age of 87.
Mr Hickson, who was born in the West Hull Workhouse in 1927, spent his career in the food industry and made his fortune after buying from his father the Humber Pickles Company, which he had helped to run for a number of years, and turning it into a major success.
This culminated in his involvement in an unusual ‘reverse takeover’ of pubic company Hazlewood Foods in the 1970s. The move, in partnership with another food company, effectively allowed them to trade as a plc, but under the Hazlewood name. Mr Hickson then remained on the Hazlewood board as an executive director until his retirement.
Mr Hickson came to the rescue of the Hull Philharmonic Orchestra in the late-1980s following a loss-making venture sponsoring visiting orchestras. Along with the orchestra’s president at the time, Hilary Needler, he also provided money for the Hull Philharmonic Trust, a registered charity that provides grants to young musicians and commissions new works.
Mr Hickson’s involvement with the orchestra lasted for 40 years during which he held the posts of chairman and president and remained in office for a few years after moving to Canterbury, Kent, to be closer to his family at the start of this century. Despite increasing disability, Mr Hickson remained a benefactor of the orchestra as well as making the long drive north for concerts until last year.
Ian Wilson, current president, said: “Tony was a driving force and always passionate about the success of the Philharmonic. His sharp business mind always kept me on my toes, and although our approach to how the society was managed often differed I always felt I had his support. He was a true patron of the arts who came to the orchestra’s rescue at its time of greatest need to ensure its financial survival.”
Andrew Penny, Hull Philharmonic musical director, said that Mr Hickson who appointed him to his position in 1982, had consistently supported the orchestra and made a very significant contribution.
Mr Hickson’s step-daughter, Suzette Booth, who lives in Faversham, said: “Dad was a great character, there’s no doubt about that. He was a huge supporter of the Hull Philharmonic and loved playing the piano. Showing his sense of humour, he was a great fan of Spike Milligan.”
Mr Hickson, who died in Kent and Canterbury Hospital from pneumonia on July 21, was a member of Canterbury Music Club and a familiar figure in the centre of his adopted city on his mobility scooter with his Great Dane, Daisy, alongside him. When the dog was stolen, there was a public outcry and the police were able to find the culprit and return her.
Late in life he wrote an autobiography, The Musical Pickle Man’s Tail.
Mr Hickson, who leaves four children, donated his body to medical science. There will be a memorial service at Canterbury Baptist Church, St George’s Place, on Monday, August 4, at 2.30pm.
Flowers from family only, but donations to either the Hull Philharmonic Orchestra or to Canterbury Music Club, in his name, would be gratefully accepted.