Brian Joyner 1935 – 2016
Eulogy written by his daughters and sons-in-law and delivered by the Reverend Ruth Legg at a remembrance service at St Mary’s, Portbury.
Brian was born to Rachel and Levi on St Swithun’s Day (July 15th.) A brother, Mervyn, followed less than two years later. Sadly, when Brian was nearly four his father died so he only had a few memories of him. As a result, when he was 5 years old his mother told him he must be ‘the man of the house’ and look after his mother and brother. This may explain his need to feel he must look after everyone. With no father around, tasks such as gardening, DIY and decorating were done by both boys. Both Mervyn and Brian were well cared for, but had a serious upbringing, no boisterous family life like his children and grandchildren have enjoyed.
Encouraged by the local school Brian passed the scholarship exam and became a weekly boarder at QEH, followed a year later by his brother Mervyn. This was a great help to their mother, as the boys were clothed and fed. The boarders’ school uniform of breeches was handed down from boy to boy and were so stiff with wear they could stand up by themselves in the corner! Whilst at QEH he enjoyed swimming and particularly rugby which started a lifelong love of the game, both playing and watching.
Brian left school to train as a junior chemist in a soap factory, studying for his exams at night school and on day release whilst working. He then moved to the National Smelting Company at Avonmouth where there were good facilities and an excellent training course. He took his finals in 1959 and was then proud to later become a fellow of The Royal Institute of Chemistry in 1970.
The other significant moment of 1959 was his marriage to Vivienne. Their first home was a flat in Redland, they then moved to Pill with every intention of moving back into Bristol later on. However, village life and good friends took over and a move was made to Easton in Gordano instead. Firm friends were made for life at Pill Methodist Church and great fun was had performing in plays and Old Time Music Halls. Three Little Maids from school looked rather different when performed by Peter Bennett, Colin Easterbrook and Brian…a memorable moment for many!
No one could have been more proud than Brian of his much loved daughters Katie and Liz. Although World travel took him to places such as Europe, America, Japan, China, Norway etc. he was a popular dad when he came home bearing gifts from these exotic places, while Viv just stayed at home. They did all miss him lots when he was away however. His job in Avonmouth involved work on anaesthetics, artificial blood and CFC’s. He was quoted as the company’s top man on aerosols and Ozone depletion and considered one of the most knowledgeable in the industry. Then his first retirement brought work at The World Bank and took him to Washington DC, Russia, Japan and India advising on CFC replacements.
In 1987 it was discovered that Brian had been born with a heart defect that needed surgery. He faced it with courage and good humour, even discharging himself from hospital prior to the operation in order to run the school summer fair at his daughters’ school. He got so frustrated with the inactivity of being housebound that within 2 weeks of surgery he was found to be cycling up the road to get a newspaper!
Brian threw himself into everything with great enthusiasm. He was however, very untidy. Others at work rated their untidiness on scale of 1… to ‘Brian Joyner untidy!’ He would be proud to see that both his daughters have the same organised chaos approach to filing as him!
He was quite a loud person and had a story or joke for every occasion…much to the agony of his wife and daughters! The jokes and stories must have been memorable to some people as he has been described by several people as having a great sense of humour and a willingness to embarrass his teenage daughters, which he did frequently.
Katie and Liz both got married in 2000 (an expensive start to the Millenium for Brian and Viv!) and he was keen to welcome sons in law Michael and Chas into the family. In fact, he was glad to redress the balance of family life by having some male company around! Then in 2005 the arrival of grandchildren Ben and Hannah, and later on Matthew and Jessica, added a happy new role to his life as a Grandpa.
Brian had many interests ranging from playing golf, singing, photography, rugby, walking and enjoying nice food and wine. He loved having a home where he could offer hospitality to others and he did this readily and with enthusiasm. Brian’s faith and his QEH school motto ‘While we have time, let us do good’ was a pattern for how he lived his whole life. He was a real support to his mother. He always helped out on school PTA’s with fundraising. He raised money for the QEH Old Boys, starting a prize draw which to this date has raised £45,000. With a group of friends he sponsored education in Uganda. He drove for the community car scheme for ten years and also did a fantastic job as property secretary for the Methodist Church for at least 15 years.
Brian was a loving, warm family man. He was a real gentleman. He was kind and welcoming to everyone he met. He was someone you could go to for advice, and people often did. He would do anything to help anyone. Maybe Brian’s kindness and generosity to others is now being reciprocated in the incredible level of support Viv has received since Brian went into hospital, from many friends and family. Everyone here has in some way helped to make that time ever so slightly easier, and for that we are all really grateful.
I was involved with Brian for many years. Firstly playing rugby for the QEH Old Boys Rugby Club in the ‘50s and 60s, he was a very popular team member and very helpful and encouraging to all the new boys who came along behind him. Later on when five years difference in age did not seem so awesome as it did back in the 50s, I met up with Brian again as a member of the Old Boys’ Executive committee. Brian was Treasurer and extremely diligent and efficient. I took over from him seven years ago and he was always on hand to help with advice and practical assistance. He remained in close contact with Mike Cole and me when Mike took over the Treasury two years ago and has been a constantly good servant of the QEH Old Boys’ Society. He raised an enormous amount of money for the Benevolent Fund through his operation of the 200 Club (OBs’ Prize Draw) that he founded.
From the start, he was a keen supporter of the OBs’ Golf Society and we all enjoyed many games in his company. Brian and Viv were always great company on the overnight visits to Elfordleigh and Padbrook Park. Brian was the Old Boys’ President at the start and it was he who donated the President’s Putter as the trophy for the season’s overall winner. Sadly he did not win it and his name is not on there but I will think of a way of remembering him personally through this trophy. Brian was one of the kindest and most engaging people that I have met. He was an absolute gentleman with a lively sense of humour and was always fun to be with. He will be greatly missed.
He was, as you say, an absolute gentleman and I don’t think I ever heard him say a bad word about anyone nor indeed curse his occasional errant golf shots.
My first memories of Brian are of him putting his heart and soul into playing for the thirds on a wet and windy Saturday afternoon; I think he was a hooker, but he epitomised what Old Boys rugby was all about.