Heartfelt tributes to ‘sincere, kind and funny’ Tony Kiteos

His sewing shop was like a social club

Friday, 13th May — By Dan Carrier

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Tony Kiteos at work, photographed by Dylan Collard

THE tributes paid to Tony Kiteos from his many friends – some of whom started as customers at his much-loved sewing machine repair shop in Fortess Road – are an indication of the mark he made on so many people’s lives.

Tony, who has died aged 72, had been taken ill at a restaurant opposite his popular shop in March and died two days later at the Whittington Hospital.

His sewing shop was considered a social club, and since his passing, his family have received heartfelt tributes to a man who spent more than four decades at his Tufnell Park store.

“We all have fantastic memories of Tony, he was one of the kindest, funniest, sincere and warm- hearted men I have ever met,” one card reads.

“I am so glad I had the pleasure of knowing him. What a great legacy – someone who only leaves kindness and warm memories.”

Another tribute simply read: “We are all saddened by the loss of Tony. His presence in Fortess Road will be deeply missed.”

Tony was born in the Cypriot village of Agios Amvrosios in 1949. He spent a childhood helping his grandfather grow vegetables and accompanying him on trips to the coast and the countryside. It instilled a love of nature that never left him – he loved to identify bird song.

Tony moved to the city of Famagusta to study and after completing his military service in 1969, he moved to London. He studied accountancy at West Ham College and  planned to become an accountant.

However, a friend offered him work managing a clothes factory, and 42 years ago, he took on the Fortess Road shop.

Tony’s Sewing Centre, with the big Singer sign above it, was his life professionally and socially. Lifelong friendships were made, with present customers first visiting in pushchairs with their parents decades ago.

Tony married his college sweetheart Naomi. They had two sons, Alexis and Greg. Naomi died when the children were 11 and 12. Tony worked six days a week and was a dedicated father.

His boys recall a man who was “patient, kind, gentle, funny, a great teacher, and an excellent role model”.

Sundays were spent gardening – and firing up the barbecue. He had a deserved reputation as the chicken king.

“Dad would always be the last to the table, and would make sure everyone had everything they could possibly want before he would sit down,” recalls Alexis.

Tony lived his life at what his son Alexis called a “relaxed pace”, and was known for not rushing.

“Dad would always say, ‘Don’t worry about it! Sit down, have something to eat first,’” added Alexis.

For the past 25 years Tony lived with his partner Manuela, a step father to her sons Simon and Jason.

A Chelsea fan, he had fallen in love with the club as a child. The outdoors was like a tonic and Tony loved relaxing in sunshine, whether it was in his back garden, in Cyprus, or at a holiday home in Portugal, which he always threatened to retire to once he had “sold my last sewing machine,” something he knew would never happen.

Tony’s shop became a sewing machine museum, and its beauty was captured in a picture by photographer Dylan Collard from his series Up My Street. It was shown at the National Portrait Gallery.

There is a service for Tony on Tuesday May 17, 11am, at St Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Kentish Town Road, NW1 9QB. The wake will be held from 4.30pm at Aces and Eights bar, 156 Fortess Road, NW5 2HP.

Flowers can be sent to the funeral directors; Demetriou and English, 131-133 Myddleton Road, N22 8NG.

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