Bryan decided to leave the Trust a thoughtful and generous gift in his Will, partly in tribute to his late mother’s love for canals and also in celebration of all the joy our waterways have brought to himself and his wider family.
In Brian's words
My mother, Margaret, was quite extraordinary, with a real twinkle in her eye. Born in 1921, she lived a full life, driving ambulances through the Second World War. In 1969, our family moved to Somerset, where my three brothers and I were largely brought up, close to where the River Parrett meets the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal. I think that's where our family's love of canals began.
I believe they helped keep my mother grounded; she was quite religious, and the canal was somewhere quiet where she could feel a connection with the water, the air, the sky and the earth. But if there happened to be a café with cake nearby, then all the better.
Later, when she lived by the Oxford Canal near Banbury, she loved to meet friends at a canalside café. My father died in 1989, but my mother remarried at the age of 95, to a childhood sweetheart.
Eventually, after he also died, my mother moved back to Bridgwater in 2020. It was about around that time that I saw that it was possible to adopt a stretch of canal, through the Canal & River Trust.
When I told my mother I'd done this for her she was very chuffed. But that was during lockdown and she was no longer very mobile, so sadly, she never actually saw it. On her 100th birthday in November 2021, we lost her too.
Almost a year later during Remember a Charity week, I saw that the Canal & River Trust were suggesting leaving a gift in one's Will and I decided to make a legacy of my own. It seemed fitting to do this in memory of my mother's love of canals; a passion that I've inherited too.
I now live close to the canal and river in Worcester. In lockdown, taking up running by the water turned out to be a real lifesaver. I'm a musician, but obviously I couldn't perform or teach music at that time, so getting outside was vital for my physical and mental health. I noticed the canal was a lot busier than usual then, and like me, people were almost using it as a lung to help them breathe and stay calm through those hard times.
I guess my legacy is about our whole family's love of canals. My mother's, my own, and my grandchildren's who now come out on walks with me to spot kingfishers and other wildlife. We'd love to see an otter one day.
I'd like my gift to be used to make sure canals are there for future generations or revive and repair as much of the network as possible. But when I look back on my mother's favourite way to spend her time by the canal, maybe it would just be a good idea to just have more floating cafés selling coffee, ice cream and cake.