Murder victim built up global lingerie firm from small beginnings

Murder victim Anthony Power.
Murder victim Anthony Power.
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John Power, son of murder victim Anthony, has written this biography of his late father

My dad Anthony Power was born in County Waterford, Dungarven, Southern Ireland and was the penultimate child of Thomas and Annie Power.

They had sixteen children in total, of which eleven survived to adulthood.

His mother Annie was forty eight years old when she gave birth to my dad, who was born prematurely at seven months old.

The family were devout Roman Catholics, and my dad continued to attend church every week right up until he died.

The family in those days were very poor and all of them lived in a two bedroomed house together.

My dad always spoke very fondly of his childhood and the close bond he shared with his siblings and his parents.

He enjoyed school and was very bright, and when he left he initially started training to be a priest and then began studying to be a veterinarian, but couldn’t afford to complete the course.

He then struggled to find work in Ireland and moved to England when he was twenty one years old, following in the footsteps of two of his sisters and his brother Michael, who had put up the money to enable him to do so. Dad’s elder brother Noel was also living in England at the time and had settled in the Darnall area of Sheffield with his wife Maureen.

Dad initially lived with Noel and Maureen for a time, and found work as a clerk at Tinsley Wire.

He then went on to work as a salesman. Around this time my dad met my mum. He had taken lodgings with my nannan (mum’s mum) who had lost her husband in the war and took in lodgers to make ends meet.

He and my mum began courting and got married in 1959 when mum was nineteen years old, and I remember my dad telling me that at the time he couldn’t even afford to buy a suit and had had to hire one.

They continued to live with my nannan for a while at the start of their marriage.

My mum hadn’t wanted to take a council house and they couldn’t afford to buy a property but they eventually managed to save up enough to move out of nannan’s house and live in a caravan in Eckington. Dad then took a sales job in York, working for Beecham’s, and in 1962 my eldest sister Siobhan was born.

Dad then got a job with Playtex; he had wanted to work for them as he had heard that they had one of the best national training programs for salesmen and thought this would be the best way for him to progress.

He enjoyed a very successful career at Playtex and was their top salesman for the following twenty five years- so much so that they even told him that they wouldn’t promote him any higher as he had set the bench mark for other salesmen to aspire to. My sister Louise was born in 1964, and I was born the following year. In 1966 the family moved back to Sheffield where mum and dad lived ever since, and my brother Danny was born in 1975.

Although dad worked long hours we were a very close and happy family.

In 1981 dad was offered the position of national sales manager but this meant relocating to Woking.

As always, dad made his decision based around what would best for the family - although it was a great opportunity and meant more money, both my sisters had started training to be nurses and after discussing it with us all we collectively decided against the move.

Around this time, my mum had started a job in party planning which involved selling ski jackets and coats.

This really started to take off, and my dad saw an opportunity within the company to buy and sell on some sale lines.

In 1982 therefore he formed his own company, A, J and D Marketing.

The company sold clearance underwear, and was run from the garage at home.

It was very much a family business, with all of us having fond memories of helping to sort out underwear in the garage!

The company name was changed to Panache in 1987, and by this time had moved out of the garage to larger premises in Attercliffe.

The business went from strength to strength, driven by my dad’s shrewdness, tenacity and determination. I joined the company in 1992, and dad remained at the head of the company until his retirement in 2007. He achieved incredible success with the business, which really was a ‘rags to riches’ story.

He won the Queen’s award for export twice, and was invited to Buckingham Palace in recognition of his success in business.

He also won numerous awards for the company including the Charter of Commerce award. By the time he retired the business had offices in Hong Kong, New York and Mannheim.

He was always totally ‘hands-on’ within the business and really saw it as his ‘baby’ that he had built up from nothing.

He was hugely liked and admired by colleagues and even rivals, and made a point of remaining personal and down to earth with his staff - he knew them all by name, and would ask after their families.

This has been evident in the hundreds of condolence cards we have received from people all over the world.

He was a very charming and affable man and literally filled the room with his presence. He never forgot his roots, and frequently donated large amounts of money to charitable causes.

The company always paid for the staff to have an annual Christmas party, and the highlight of the night was always dad’s speech which would invariably have the staff in fits of laughter.

The staff collectively decided that they didn’t want any kind of party for the Christmas which has just gone - testament to the fact that the void created by my dad’s absence would have been too much to bear.

The company has lost its founder and its figurehead.

Upon his retirement the company was split equally amongst the four siblings.

Dad maintained a very active interest in the company even after retirement, and I think he found it difficult to adjust to life after work.

Around the time of his retirement, dad decided to buy himself a Bentley Continental.

This to him was the pinnacle of all he had achieved- despite his success he was never frivolous or ostentatious with money, but he had always wanted to own a prestige car and felt that this was his reward for years of hard work.

The car, with its private number plate, was my dad’s pride and joy and for him was a physical representation of his success.

He and mum would go for a drive in it most days, out to lunch or to the countryside, enjoying their retirement together.

It was always kept immaculately clean and tidy, inside and out. After dad’s death we couldn’t bear the sight of the car - to think that someone who had done that to my dad had then sat in his car and smeared it with dad’s blood is simply unbearable.

We sold the car immediately at a fraction of its value.

Dad was very fit and healthy for a man of his age, and was rarely ill.

He always seemed strong and robust. In January 2012 we went on a family holiday to Spain where dad suffered from a leaking heart valve and was hospitalised for a few days.

He went on to recover from this and his condition was controlled by medication, but I think it brought him face to face with his own mortality - he didn’t feel old and didn’t want to get old, and felt full of life.

His energy and drive were quite astonishing - even after retirement he went on to set up another company called Gritstone which deals with quarrying and mining.

He was also a keen golfer and would play as often as he could.

Dad was an absolutely devoted family man, and was the keystone of our family.

We were, and will remain, a close and loving family.

We have a very large extended family, and at family reunions or parties dad often took centre stage, entertaining us all and himself with his antics.

He adored his grandchildren, and would play with them and lovingly tease them with boundless energy.

Some of our happiest memories of dad are at family gatherings or on family holidays. We would get together most weekends, and the room would always be filled with laughter and banter.

Dad was close to all his siblings, and had a strong sense of duty towards his family.

He found it very distressing when his brother Noel was confined to a secure unit due to mental health problems, and did his best to support him and Maureen both emotionally and financially.

I don’t know exactly what Noel’s diagnosis is, but I know that he could be aggressive and difficult towards Maureen and his daughter (my cousin) Cheriene, who had called upon dad to help with Noel on two or three occasions prior to Monday 8th October. Noel loved and respected my dad, and he would often respond better to him than he did to other family members.

Dad visited Noel regularly and he and mum would often taken Noel and Maureen out for the day.

Dad had been ill and for the first time in his life had spent three days in bed prior to Monday 8th October 2012.

He had been suffering from flu-like symptoms, and it was most unusual for him to take to his bed.

He was on the mend, but had only got up and about on that morning.

From talking to mum I know that when dad got the call on that Monday evening to tell him that Noel was causing problems, he had no hesitation in offering to go and help.

Mum hadn’t wanted him to go out as she felt he still wasn’t entirely better, but as always my dad’s sense of duty to a family member in need prevailed.

When he left the house he would have done so in the strongest belief that he was doing the right thing in going to help his brother.

He would have taken the Bentley not to attract adverse attention but because it would have been the most accessible means of transport.