Tony Rowe OBE

Honorary graduates 2014-15

Tony Rowe OBE (LLD)

Monday 14 July 3:00pm

Tony left school at the age of 15 and joined the Royal Marines Band as a drummer and bugler.

In 1972, Tony started a company selling and repairing powerboat engines and eventually went on to race single-seater powerboats. He became the British Champion and won the Rouen 24-hr powerboat race (the powerboat equivalent to Le Mans), setting a new British water speed record.

In 1982 the telecommunications industry was privatised and Tony seized the opportunity to establish South West Telecoms.

Over the last 30 years the business has grown to become one of the largest independently owned communications company in the south and south west. It has a broad customer base, from small start-up businesses to large international companies. Today the company is known as South West Communications Group (SW Comms), and Tony is the Chief Executive and Chairman.

Tony has other commercial interests in the region. He is Chief Executive and Chairman of Exeter Chiefs Rugby Club: over the last 20 years the club has developed from the fourth division to the Premiership and Europe; it moved from the old County Ground in St Thomas to its new home at Sandy Park Stadium, and has become a premier events and conferencing centre.

Tony is Chairman and Trustee of the Exeter Foundation, the Exeter Chiefs’ charity, a Trustee of the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund and the Chairman and Trustee of the C Group.

Tony was awarded an OBE in 2012. He is a keen motorcyclist and regularly undertakes motor bike trips overseas to raise money for Devon charities. He also restores old fire engines and collects stamps in his spare time!