Bryan Annetts (1933 – 2020)

Bryan’s daughter Sue recently alerted us to Bryan’s passing in October 2020.

She provided two photographs of Bryan taken during his apprentice years, and two tributes from his funeral, as follows.

 Bryan is on the right of his four fellow Austin apprentices in 1950, with the fruits of their labours –  a sectioned Austin A40 Devon 
engine and gearbox
In his whites – Bryan seated, second from the right, with the cricket team

 A Tribute from Bryan’s younger brother Gerald.(delivered on his behalf by son Steve)

Memories of my brother Bryan – the early years by Gerald Annett

My first memories of my ‘big brother’ came at the end of the Second World War when I was about 6 years old and he would have been 12. It must have been quite a change from living in Dulwich House in Malvern where he lived with Aunty Cis. When he returned to us in The Fairway, after an unhappy time at his new school, he sat and passed the entrance examination to attend Handsworth Technical College where he thrived. I have distinct memories of him carrying a heavy pile of books on the bus to school each day!

He served in church at St Bartholomew Church and I remember on one occasion he hit the arch while carrying the cross and knocked the cross off! He spent the whole of the rest of the day at home repairing it!

He was always interested in things mechanical and good with his hands. I remember him helping Father to build a lean-to shelter at the side of the house!  So solidly constructed I imagine it is still there! He was also skilled in carpentry too and built in the shelves in our office at home which will never fall off the wall!  I have a wooden toolbox which he designed and made to an original specification which is fitted under the bonnet of my own 1932 MG.

On leaving school he gained an apprenticeship in the drawing office at the Austin Motor Company and enjoyed his time there. I can remember watching him play cricket for the apprentice team on occasions. He was very patient with his kid brother! He had saved money earned to buy a new bicycle and after I played my face to have a one myself, Father gave him money and instructed him to take me into Birmingham on the tram and help buy my first bike for me! Generously he did!

On completion of his apprenticeship, he was called up to complete his 2 years National Service with the Royal Engineers.  He was sent to Arborfield for basic training prior to deployment in Gibraltar where he had a thoroughly good time helping to maintain the guns there and visiting places in Spain in his free time with friends!

When he came home having been demobbed he purchased an old MG NA saloon. This was a good time for us spending quality time together working on cars. The MG was stripped down, the engine rebuilt and Bryan painted the body by hand. He was always patient, meticulous, never rushed, to get a job done properly. We both shared together a keen interest in all things mechanical which lasted throughout our lives. He was always happiest working away in his workshop.

In recent years, after the move to Cornwall, we were unable to see as much of each other, but we always made the effort to meet and celebrate our birthdays and wedding anniversaries together with Christine. A visit to his workshop was always an essential part of the visit where he was building a new lathe. We will certainly miss him and his lovely smile

 Bryan’s daughter Sue followed that with her own tribute:

Thank you everyone for being here today – both those present in church and the friends and family who are unable to join us but are with us in thought and prayer.

Mom and Dad were married on 21st October 1961 on a beautiful autumn day in Bournville, Birmingham. A marriage that only ended when Dad passed away just over 59 years later. Those 59 years took them first to Swindon Village – a small community outside of Cheltenham in Gloucestershire, then to Cinderford in the Forest of Dean and finally, after Dad had retired, to Wadebridge in Cornwall.

As you already heard from Steve, Dad did his apprenticeship in the design office at the Austin Car Works in Birmingham which led to a life long career as a Chartered Design Engineer. He held several patents for his designs and was a member in good standing of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers for 60 years. Dad was never one to boast about his accomplishments, but I do remember him being quite proud the day he received a letter and certificate honouring him on his 50 years of membership. He often brought his work home and evenings often saw him sketching out an idea for a design on the back of an envelope.

When I asked Mom what her abiding memories of Dad would be she talked about how kind and gentle he was and his abiding love of animals – most especially the dogs that were part of the family through the years. Many evenings would see Dad sat on the settee trying to read the newspaper with a large golden retriever sat his lap.

She also recalled how much they enjoyed being part of C.O.D.S. – the Cheltenham Operatic and dramatic society. Dad spent many hours at the theatre painting scenery and then being part of the stage crew during the actual performances.

For many years he was also a leading light in the charity Christmas Shows at the village hall in Swindon Village. He performed on stage – singing and taking part in comic sketches and again showed his artistic talent by each year painting a fresh mural on the back wall of the stage. I learned earlier this year that the last mural he painted had been “rediscovered” and restored and will be kept as a permanent part of the village hall.

Tragically, Dad spent the last 4 years of their marriage away from Mom in hospital and then in a nursing home battling against dementia and finding it increasingly difficult to communicate, however mom always felt that she was loved.

Now it’s my turn to tell you a little  about the Bryan that was my dad.

Simply – a girl never had a better dad – he saved me from countless huge spiders – taught me how to check my oil and tyre pressure – tried – although unsuccessfully – to teach me how to counter-sink a screw – shared with me his love of the outdoors and the natural word and maybe, most importantly, taught me to never throw away a good piece of wood – you never know when it might come in handy.

He showed me how to be steadfast in friendship and that hard work and honesty were something to be proud of. That being calm, kind and gentle were much the best way to go through life.

He encouraged me to follow my dreams, even when they took me thousands of miles away. When I told him I felt guilty about being so far away he said that all that mattered was that I was happy.

The last years of Dad’s life were not easy for him – I can’t begin to imagine how frustrated and at times scared he must have been as his dementia worsened. Yet, no matter how ill he was, his carers all remarked how polite he was – always said please and thank you – a gentleman to the last.

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