North Devon’s former MP dies

Tony Speller is congratulated by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher after winning North Devon for the Conservatives in the 1979 general election. Tony Speller is congratulated by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher after winning North Devon for the Conservatives in the 1979 general election.

Monday, February 18, 2013
11:26 AM

Tony Speller, who was MP from 1972 to 1992, passes away aged 83.

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FORMER North Devon MP Tony Speller has died, aged 83.

Mr Speller, who was the Conservative MP for North Devon from 1979-92, passed away on Friday at an Exeter nursing home following a long illness.

Born on June 12,1929 in Exeter, Mr Speller attended Exeter School. Before entering Parliament he ran a chain of printing and copy shops in the South West with his business partner.

He was also a member of Exeter City Council and challenged for the North Devon seat at the 1974 general election, losing to Liberal Democrat Jeremy Thorpe.

He was re-adopted as the Conservative candidate and successfully defeated Mr Thorpe in 1979, serving until he lost to Nick Harvey in 1992.

“Tony was most proud of being north Devon’s champion and cheer leader in Westminster, Whitehall and the wider world,” said Alec Pickersgill, who was the constituency agent from 1975 to 1990.

“He never lost an opportunity of promoting North Devon as a wonderful place to live, work and do business, all of which he did with tremendous energy and enthusiasm. He maintained this interest throughout his very happy retirement.”

Mr Speller lived in Newton-St-Cyres with his wife Maureen. The couple had five children and 12 grand children.

In a statement, North Devon Conservative Association said it was ‘much saddened’ to hear of his death: “Tony was a wonderful champion for all his constituents in North Devon; one of his crowning legacies was securing the construction of the long awaited North Devon Link Road. He had a great many friends in the association and will be sorely missed. All members of the association send much sympathy to Tony’s family in these sad times.”

His funeral will take place at the Church of the Sacred Heart in South Street, Exeter, on Monday, March 4 at 10am.

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