1971 – 2018
By, Sergio Burns
Craig Bryson just faded gently, like the end of a superb hit record that everybody loves and wants to play over and over again. Husband, father, friend and well known local businessman. Remembered and celebrated.
I am sitting in Costa Coffee in Ayr Central on a cold day waiting for Craig’s widow Linda and son Daniel (there is a younger son Lewis who is not with them today). The shop is busy, the staff warm and friendly, smiling as they remove some empty cups from our table.
“He was the love of my life,” Linda, his widow, told me when she arrived.
“He just went to sleep,” Daniel added. “We take a wee bit comfort from that there has not been any…pain or any suffering, he’s been quite peaceful.”
Linda is stoic in what are difficult times, she wants to give people, like me, who didn’t know Craig, an idea of who he was and what he achieved.
“Craig did more in 47 years than some people do in the lifetime,” Linda said quietly.
We take time to reflect.
“Back in the 90’s when Craig and I first met we started off in a two bedroom council flat,” Linda remembered. “It was in Ayr, it was actually my flat and I went on holiday, and I asked him to look after it and he never moved back out.”
“He has still to tell his mum and dad he is moving out,” Older son Daniel added.
It brings another laugh.
“We stayed…until 2004…we sold it and we moved into Obree Avenue,” Linda continued. “Then in 2006… we got round to getting married. The reason… it took us so long…was because mum and dad didn’t
have money. All the money we had was either turned into the businesses, or furnishing our home, and I didn’t want to go to my mum and dad and ask them, and I didn’t want Craig’s mum and dad paying for it. The two of us paid for it ourselves. A church wedding, me, and the boys standing next to us – 20 of us all together. We couldn’t even afford a big wedding and then we went from there to the Carrick Lodge, 20 of us had a private meal and that was it.”
Craig Bryson is, perhaps, best known for his association with the globally successful Steven Brown Art. The world famous ‘McCoo’ and family.
“Well Craig was the business brain behind it, he made it commercial,” Linda explained. “I mean he was actually coming away from Digital Kitchens to put everything into Steven Brown Art because that has taken arms and legs. In the beginning he gave them a little room at Digital Kitchens and that’s where it took off… he took care of everybody.”
There was a pause people around us chatted happily over their Latte’s (skinny or otherwise). Ghosts outside our bubble.
“Steven and my dad were best buddies at school,” Daniel takes up the story. “Through time you lose contact with your school buddies but…Steven had a heart attack and he got back in touch with my dad. It was when Steven and Caroline got married and my mum and dad went along to the wedding…that’s how they got back into contact and they became good friends again. Steven was off work with ill health and he started painting and my dad said there is something here. Dad actually coaxed him into putting one of his paintings into the Cash for Kids annual ball at the Racecourse and they raised £1000 or was it £2000?”
“I can’t remember but people were going daft for it,” Linda chimed. “That was in 2015.”
“My dad put two and two together and thought there is something here,” Daniel again. “They became business partners, Steven did the painting and my dad became the driving force behind the business… it was a really successful partnership.”
Steven Brown Art now has a global following, and has been collaborating with writer Shirley Husband on children’s books.
But Craig was much more than just a razor sharp businessman. There were many sides to Craig Bryson, he was good fun, a good husband, father and friend.
“He was a very genuine person,” His son Daniel added. “A very generous person. The amount of people who have come forward that we don’t even know and have been telling us how nice he was to them and the things he did when they were at a difficult stage in their life. Dad had helped them, maybe just given them some guidance and advice. He was that type, he would do something and he wouldn’t want any credit for it.”
He had a very human touch. He was just one of those very personable souls who could feel comfortable with anyone.
Well respected and well liked, Craig also did his bit for charity supporting the local Hospice and Whiteley’s Retreat among many.
“He went to his bed on the Wednesday evening,” Linda recalled. “Lewis, my youngest son, was the last person to see him. He had two Jack Daniels and just went to his bed. I was on an overnight to Stobo Castle. I am hardly away, it was always the opposite way about, because Craig worked away a lot. He had to travel, and I was always at home with the boys over the years.”
Linda paused, her eyes fell to the floor. She seemed fragile, but with great resolve regained her composure.
“I spoke to him,” She tilted her head recalling that fateful night. “He actually made a wee comment on Facebook because I was doing my dance… to raise funds for Maggie’s cancer care. Lewis got up in the morning stuck his head in the bedroom and said I am just away to my work dad, he thought he was having a lie in. Then I was trying to phone him… in the morning, he wasn’t answering his phone. His phone always sat at the side of his bed, that was the last thing he touched when he went to bed and the first thing he touched when he woke up… he was a workaholic. I phoned Daniel to say : ‘Could you go round? Something wrong. He went round and Daniel found him.”
We fall into silence.