In Memoriam | Tony Giles

Photo of former SJWMS student, Tony Giles.

Our deepest sympathies to the family of Tony Giles, a former student who has recently passed away at the age of 95. His years at the Math had a huge impact on his life and Tony expressed a wish that the school be notified of his passing. A brief outline of Tony’s achievements can be found below.

Anthony Kent Giles (Tony)

AK (Tony) Giles was born on 30th June 1928 and brought up in Rochester, Kent, where his family ran a successful wholesale grocery business, “Giles of Rochester”. He was one of 4 children and educated first at the University School and then at the Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School, where, by his own admission, after a slow start, he excelled academically through a war time interrupted education. He captained the school cricket and rugby teams and was Head Boy for 3 years.

Following school, Tony was called up for National Service in 1947 in the Royal Air Force, where he became a Pilot Officer, and was involved in pilot aptitude training and selection work.

In 1949, he went to study Economics at the Queen’s University of Belfast. He was attracted to Queen’s by its location, being a long way and very different from Kent and the pre-eminence, at the time, of its rugby. He was an excellent scrum half who was eventually selected to play for Ireland. However, when the Irish selectors discovered he was actually English, this invitation was withdrawn!

Having developed an interest in both agriculture and management whilst at Queen’s, his professional career began in 1953 when he became an Assistant Lecturer, then Lecturer, in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Bristol. He moved to Reading’s Department of Agricultural Economics and Management in 1960, being promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1968 and to Professor of Farm Management in 1983. He was the founding Director of the University’s Farm Management Unit in 1979.

He retired in 1993 having been in charge, for a long period of his time at Reading, of the Ministry of Agriculture’s National Farm Business Survey (FBS) work there. He was eventually the Head of the National FBS work between 1975 and 1992.

He was awarded the OBE in 1992 (for services to agriculture and farm management) which followed several other awards, including Fellowships of the British Institute of Management (1987) and of the Institute of Agricultural Management (1992). He wrote over 200 professional publications, many of which were on the rural-urban interface, farmers and farm managers and the principles and techniques of management.

Tony made an immense contribution to agricultural economics in the UK: he was Conference Programme Secretary for the Agricultural Economics Society (AES) between 1970 and 1981; the AES President in 1987; and the UK representative of the International Agricultural Economics Association between 1971 and 1986. He was also at various times, the Chair of the Institute of Agricultural Management and recognised with the National Farm Management Award in 1986.

He had a long and distinguished career – but it started at “The Math”. Tony had a long and well lived life and died in October 2023 aged 95 after a short illness, but peacefully at home with his family around him. He has 4 children and was married to Heather for over 40 years.