MOST people step in when their best friend needs relationship advice – but it’s less common when that mate is also your ex, and you LIVE with them and their new partner.
That’s the case for Tony Drewitt-Barlow, 56, though, known to many as one of Britain’s first gay dads.
Not only does he live with ex Barrie, 50, and his new partner Scott, 27, but Scott is also the ex-boyfriend of Tony and Barrie’s 21-year-old daughter Saffron.
It’s a thoroughly “modern and blended” family according to everyone involved, something made obvious when Tony received a $90million windfall courtesy of Bitcoin last week.
While most would start splashing the cash on top-of-the-range cars, property and designer clothes, Tony’s first thought was for his family – all of them.
Saffron and her twin Aspen received $15million each, younger brother Orlando, 17, also got $15million and 11-year-old twins Dallas and Jasper received $10million.
Tony also gifted Barrie and Scott’s four-month-old daughter Valentina, his goddaughter who was born via surrogate, with $1million in a move which shows just how close they are.
“Barrie and I have always wanted to give our family and extended families nice things and we have always spoilt our children, now we can really spoil them!” Tony said.
“The pressure of being financially responsible for everyone has now lifted and that’s a great feeling.
“I have a new partner now, Brent, and we are looking into maybe one day starting our own family.
“Nothing has been decided yet but Barrie introduced us to Valentina’s Egg donor at Christmas and she offered to be an egg donor for Brent and I so that’s a possibility.
“Valentina and our baby would be biological siblings.”
Millions will recall pictures of Barrie and Tony cradling week-old twins Saffron and Aspen — born to a surrogate in California in 1999 — as they revealed themselves as the UK’s first gay dads and the first same-sex couple to be named on a birth certificate as parents.
The former couple, now multi-millionaire from their ventures including a trans-Atlantic surrogacy business and a global medical research company, became civil partners in 2006, then wed as soon as it became legal in the UK in 2014.
Saffron and her brother Aspen were conceived using the donor eggs of one woman, Tracie McCune, and carried in the womb of surrogate Rosalind Bellamy.
Manchester-born Barrie is the biological father of one, and Tony is the dad of the other — so they are actually half-siblings born at the same time.
Aspen, though, does have an identical twin — Orlando, 17. This is because the embryo from which Aspen was born split in two in the lab.
The other half was put on ice for four years before being carried for Barrie and Tony in the womb of a Japanese woman called Donna.
Barrie and Tony also have a second set of twins, Dallas and Jasper, born 11 years ago after Donna acted as surrogate again.
This time the eggs were from a Brazilian model, who Barrie spotted on a catwalk and paid £35,000.
Barrie announced he had split from Tony in 2019, confirming he had fallen for Saffron’s ex Scott.
They welcomed Valentina four months ago and are already planning to give her a sibling via surrogate this year.
The whole family now live together in a £6million, ten-bedroom mansion in Florida. Barrie and Scott have one wing, while Tony is in the other side of the house with Brent – who was his nurse after the throat cancer he was diagnosed with in 2006 returned in 2018.
Barrie and I were over sexually for many years before Scott came along
“Barrie and I have been together since 1987, we are best friends always,” says Tony.
“Sometimes relationships change, they don’t always end. Ours changed and we both needed and wanted other things. I adore Scott, he really is one of my best friends.
“He talks to me about his relationship with Barrie and I try to help him sort things out when they are p**sed off with each other. I love them both.
“Barrie and I were over sexually for many years before Scott came along. We were friends and were both looking for different things and so we agreed to do it.
“Then Valentina came along and completely invigorated the house. She has totally got me obsessed with her, the rest of the family too.
“I’m Uncle Tony and Valentina is the sister to my own children, so as far as I am concerned, we are one huge happy family. I love her to bits.
“The house has almost rewoken since she arrived and I can’t wait for Barrie and Scott’s next babies to arrive at the end of the year.”
Tony is known for his savvy business acumen, which is why he invested $300,000 in Bitcoin in 2015.
After keeping a close eye on things over the last few years, he decided to cash out last week – raking in a whopping $90million.
Barrie has not paid a bill in 35 years
He split the cash between his family, giving the eldest three $5million into their bank accounts and putting the rest in trusts for when they are 25. The youngest children also have trusts they will be able to access when they are 25 (or 21 in Valentina’s case).
The rest of the money is for Tony and Barrie to use, with Tony explaining his health is one of the driving forces for these decisions.
“The cancer treatment I’ve had was very new at the time and the protocol I followed was hard and rough, but I got through it,” he says.
“The problems with the treatment were not so known at the time and it is that treatment that will eventually end my life. The bone in my face has died, I have removed lots of it and replaced it with bone and skin from my leg and other body parts now, but the other internal issues cannot be helped.
“So with that said, I want to watch my children have an amazing life now, whilst I’m able to and not when I’m dead and buried.
“I wanted to get my affairs in order and sort things out for the family. Barrie never deals with the money side on anything. He’s great at making it but I’ve always been the one to look after it. He has not paid a bill in 35 years, I always pay them.”
Tony didn’t tell anyone about his windfall, instead he hired a private jet to take the family to Cuba for a couple of night last week.
Coronavirus restrictions meant they couldn’t have the kind of lavish holiday they’d usually enjoy – but they still had a great time.
“The jet was quite reasonable actually, I’ve been using them for a few years now so I get a great deal, this trip was $95,000, then the resort was $45,000 after all the spa treatments the kids had,” he said.
“We had the family’s private chef with us for the few days we were there, so we eat like we usually do. Barrie and Saffron are super fussy about what they eat and our chef has come to know what they like so it’s easy to take her with us.
“It was really weird, but super nice to see their reactions to the news – they were all screaming and Saffron cried
“The young boys were like, ‘Fantastic Dad, can we get a box at Old Trafford next year to watch Man United!’ So I’ve agreed to take one of the corporate boxes.
“The older boys were overjoyed too, and of course Saffron jumped straight online to start shopping.”
The money means Tony will step away from work, with Aspen taking over his role at the global medical research company.
His specialist gave him under five years to live two years ago, but he remains positive about what lies ahead.
“I’m taking every day as it comes. I feel fit as a fiddle, so let’s see where we are in a year or two,” he says.
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“I plan to beat the odds if I can. I get tired easily, and I forget a lot these days, but I have my children, my family, around me as time goes on.
“I’m looking to buy a place on Malibu Beach, the place I want to see my last sunset and die with my family around me. It’s certainly a long way from Wythenshawe where I grew up in Manchester.”
Read more about Saffron incredible life with her family in her weekly Fabulous column, Saffy’s Absolutely Fabulous Life.