WITH the death of his wife Barbara at the age of 86, antiques expert Henry Sandon has lost his most treasured item. “She was my rock, my organiser, wherever I went she was by my side,” said the man who became a household face and name through his appearances on BBC television’s Antiques Roadshow.
Although rarely seen on camera, Mrs Sandon was an ever-present throughout his many broadcasts and public events, usually accompanied by her little white poodle Snowy.
The couple were married for 56 years, but Mrs Sandon had been ill after breaking her leg in a fall at their Worcester home before Christmas. After a spell at Worcestershire Royal Hospital, she transferred to Norton Hall Care Home, where she died.
They both enjoyed a lifelong love of antiques and began collecting ceramics long before they met in 1953. “He only married me to get my collection,” Mrs Sandon once joked. The couple were introduced when Mr Sandon was conducting St John’s Choral Society and Mrs Sandon was singing in it. Three years later they were walking down the aisle of Worcester Cathedral.
Their passion for music was as strong as their interest in porcelain. Mr Sandon recalled: “On our wedding night we had to rush off to Birmingham. I was singing with BBC Midlands with confetti all over me.” The couple spent their honeymoon in one of their favourite places, the miniature city of St David’s in Pembrokeshire.
Mrs Sandon, who worked in the Civil Service, became used to people recognising her husband – even if they thought he was somebody else. “Everybody thinks he’s [late presenter of Antiques Roadshow] Arthur Negus!” she once said. “It’s quite funny really. You get used to it and everybody is so friendly.”
The couple had three sons, David, twins John and Peter, and grandchildren Elizabeth and Robert. On their golden wedding anniversary in 2006 they revealed the secret to their long marriage was both loving the same things.
The funeral service for Barbara Sandon will be at 11am on Thursday, February 14, at Worcester Crematorium. “We would prefer it if there was no sombre dress,” said Mr Sandon. That wasn’t his wife’s way.