Obituary: Bryan Braithwaite-Exley (1927-2009)

Sylvia Harrop
 North Craven 
 Heritage Trust 

It was just as last year’s Journal was going to the press that we heard of the sudden death of our second President, Bryan Braithwaite-Exley, on Friday 29 May 2009. Bryan was our President from 1993, when he succeeded Alan Bennett, to 2004, and always took a strong interest in the Trust and its activities.

Bryan was a true Yorkshireman, born in Leeds and living in the old West Riding all his life. He was educated at Sedbergh School, where he picked up a love of rugby. He excelled at the sport, playing regularly for Headingley, and Yorkshire; and played for England in a match against Wales at Cardiff Arms Park in 1949. He lived in Ilkley until he moved to North Craven to work for his family’s quarrying firm, XL Granite, at Ingleton. The company also owned the quarry at Helwith Bridge. The firm then sold out to Amalgamated Road-stone, which later sold out to Hansons. By the late 1940s he had moved to Austwick, and soon after married his wife Barbara, and they settled down at Pant House, where they lived until moving down the Pant a few years ago.

For the rest of his life Bryan was very active in rural and village life and had a distinguished and dedicated career on public and other bodies. Starting at home, he was a parish councillor in Austwick for more than 50 years and chairman for much of this time. He was chairman of the old Settle Rural District Council and a member of the West Riding County Council, the North Yorkshire County Council and the Committee of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. He also chaired the West Riding Town and Country Planning Committee. As chair-man of Settle RDC, he was automatically placed on the Yorkshire and Humberside Economic Planning Committee, a seat he held for three years. Other community positions he held included chairman of the bench at Skipton Magistrates’ Court, school governor of Sedbergh, Settle High, Giggleswick, Horton-in-Ribblesdale, Bentham and Austwick schools, and a church-warden at the Church of the Epiphany, Austwick. He was also a non-executive direc-tor of Skipton Building Society for 23 years and chairman from 1995 to 1998, and had the honour of being appointed a Deputy Lieutenant for North Yorkshire in 1988, serving for just under 21 years. We in the Trust have been extremely fortunate that among all these responsibilities Bryan agreed to become our President in 1993, and carried out this role for 11 years. His wide knowledge of the countryside and stature in the local and wider communities have been of great value to us - as was the fact that he seemed to know everyone through his lifelong local networking.

Despite the demands of all these responsibilities, Bryan found time for his passions: rugby football, field sports and fishing. He was never available for anything when an England rugby match was on television, and was due to go on a regular fishing holiday to Scotland the day after he died. He had a powerful personality and was a man of strong opinions, but also a man who cared deeply about things, was very hospitable and had a lovely sense of humour. He always gave the impression that life was there for enjoyment. A very large congregation filled the church at Austwick and sat and stood outside for the service of remembrance and thanksgiving on 8 June - where the service sheet was liberally illustrated with drawings relating to Bryan’s love of fishing. He is survived by his wife, Barbara, daughter Sue, son Marcus and six grand-children, to whom we send our deep sympathies.