Mr Bryan Lionel Beesley Potter
21 September 1956 - 14 April 2020
Bryan was born on the 21st September 1956 at the Cottage Hospital, Lynton, North Devon. He and his family resided at the village of Challacombe, on Exmoor, North Devon. His parents were Mary and Kenneth Potter. Bryan was one of six children and was the youngest. Their names, in order of age, are Kevin, Keith, Suzanne, Kenneth, Bryn and Bryan. All the children including Bryan went to Bratton Fleming Primary School and attended the Barnstable Secondary Modern School for Boys and Girls.
Bryan followed his brothers into the military in 1972 and signed up at 15 years old to join the 1st Battalion Devon & Dorset Regiment as a Junior Bandsman. His junior training lasted 3 years at Wyvern Barracks, Exeter. On completion of training in 1975 he joined his unit as an adult Bandsman in Osnabruck, Germany. It was not long after Bryan got to Germany, he left the band and joined the Motor Transport Platoon and became a driver. He did a 6 month United Nations tour of Cyprus, which he enjoyed and got to know Cyprus well. The Regiment returned to Germany. In 1977 Bryan went to Northern Ireland during the troubles with the Regiment on another six month tour as the Commanding Officers Driver. During the tour Bryan took a four-day Rest and Recuperation (R&R) break. This was in June and he stayed with his Mum and Dad. It was at this time whilst on his R&R break Bryan had a horrific car accident.
One of the things Bryan was proudest of, and he knew his Mum and Dad would have been proud too, was that between the five brothers they completed over 100 years in the Army. That was certainly and achievement to be proud of.
Bryan sustained serious brain injury plus other injuries. Owing to his brain injury he was put into a three month induced coma. He initially went to North Devon Royal Infirmary but was then transferred to the Royal Navy Hospital Davenport. He was at this hospital for ten months and was in bed space H3 which coincidentally his brother Keith was also in two years prior with a fever during the Army Training at Penhale Camp, Cornwall. Bryan eventually attended rehabilitation at Chessington plus the Queen Elizabeth Military Hospital, Woolwich. After receiving fifteen months’ hospital treatment Bryan returned home to his parents in September 1978. His mum cared for Bryan for three years but this became difficult owing to her ongoing breast cancer treatment during this time. Bryan went to the Leonardl Cheshire home in Braunton until 1983. It was then with the help of Jeremy Thorpe MP for North Devon that a case was made successfully for Bryan to join the Royal Star & Garter Care home (for service personnel only), Richmond upon Thames. The fact the family had five serving members in the Army, at the time, helped with this decision. Bryan spent 29 years at the home in Richmond. When the home was sold the Royal Star & Garter relocated to a new home in Surbiton, Bryan had to be transferred to another home. He went to the new Willow Grange Nursing home and resided there for eight years. It was on Tuesday 14 April 2020 at midday, after a short illness, Brian dies of Bronchopneumonia at the Willow Grange.
The family would like to thank both the Royal Star & Garter and the Willow Grange Nursing Home for their dedication in providing Bryan with the quality care, a safe environment and all other special services including meals, celebrations and trips out. A special mention should also be made to the Richmond Social Services for their support and funding over 38 years. Thanks to you all.
During Bryan’s time in care, sadly, he lost his mum, dad and eldest brother Kevin whom all died of cancer in their middle ages. In 1986 his brother Keith returned to the UK from Germany and settled in Hampshire. He then oversaw Bryans care, holidays, all other needs plus visiting him regularly over a period of 34 years. Bryan was wheelchair bound for almost 44 years. Keith also bought Bryan a disabled vehicle giving Bryan the opportunity to go out on Drives, visits and meals.
Obviously, owing to Bryans accidents his military career was cut short and he was discharged from the Army on 2 October 1978. Bryan was also known for his abilities as a very good shot, like his brother Kevin, and was graded a Marksman accordingly. Bryan regularly talked about his love of the military shooting and took part in unit competitions. He, on several occasions, had run-ins with the military discipline procedures due to his mischievous character.
Bryan will be remembered for being witty, with a great sense of humour and spirit for life plus his colourful language following in the footsteps of his dad, Uncle John and Grandfather (POP) Potter. He never took life to seriously, but was living the young life of wine, woman and song. This never changed even after his accident and he enjoyed socializing, smoking and drinking. He often got drunk at the Royal Star & Garter and whilst there he would gate-crash parties and pinch a drink off the tables. Staff at the home would regularly search for Bryan in the late evening only to find him finishing other peoples drinks at the home bar or in the function room. He also had a great positive attitude, particularly in the early years after his accident, whereby he would say that he was going to drive again and he never gave up on that. He also liked to boast of his many children although there was no evidence of that but it made him smile. He laughed a lot about all sorts of silly things right up to the end, but that was Bryan, and he will always be remembered and loved for that.