It is with great sadness that we have to announce the death of Bruce Grant, well known within the RYA and one of the founder members of the RYA North East Region.
Bruce was born in Lambeth, south London in September 1945. His parents, Graham and Jo were both doctors at Kings College Hospital. Sadly, Bruce’s health was not good right from the start and kidney problems plagued him for most of his life.
At times, when Bruce was a young man, his life expectancy was estimated at around 30 years, but determination, grit and willpower soon overcame the medical predictions.
Love of sailing
Bruce’s love of sailing was immense. He caught the sailing bug as a young boy, sailing out of Lymington with his Great Uncle Harry and Colin, his brother. At the age of nine, Bruce constructed his own dinghy from a kit won in a prize from the Eagle magazine and this introduced him to his lifelong love of working with wood, especially on boats.
Following school Bruce studied law at Newcastle University. He loved the law; its precision, the intellectual effort required, the need for memory and mostly because it was hard, and he liked fathoming out things which were hard.
Inspiring future lawyers
In 1967 Bruce graduated, having been very ill at times throughout the course, and set off for London to study for his professional exams in order to qualify as a solicitor. Sadly, at the age of 22, he went into renal failure, forcing him to return home and commence dialysis at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary. Bruce never qualified as a solicitor for private practice, instead he pursued his interest in the law by teaching and inspiring the minds of future lawyers at Newcastle University.
In 1968 he married his first wife, Liza, a physiotherapist who looked after him for several years. The dialysis took a severe toll on his body but in the summer of 1974 Bruce received his mother’s kidney, and a new life beckoned. Although this marriage ended, Bruce was alive and more determined than ever.
Back to the RNYC
Life opened up with his new kidney. Bruce re-joined the Royal Northumberland Yacht Club (RNYC), having first joined in 1963 and giving up his membership a couple of years later through severe ill health. He began to sail again and to have holidays, something denied to him between the ages of 18 and 29.
Bruce became a Yachtmaster, in 1979, a Yachtmaster Instructor, qualified in Astro Navigation, and took up roles at RNYC, holding the posts of Sailing Secretary, Rear Commodore, Vice Commodore and Commodore. In 2008 he was granted Life Membership and became Vice President of RNYC.
Bruce also established the RNYC Training School, and was its principal for many years leading one week practical courses for sailors from RNYC on the West Coast of Scotland. Not content with running the RNYC Training School, Bruce, along with Rodney and Quentin Mitchell, created the RNYC Sailing Directions from the Humber to Rattray Head. The sailing directions were edited and published by Quentin and Bruce for 25 years before the baton was passed on.
Bruce’s contribution to the world of sailing was not confined to RNYC and he was awarded a RYA Regional Award in 2006 for his services to the Royal Yachting Association in the North East Region, on whose committee he has served continuously since the birth of the Region in 1988.
On a national level, Bruce has been a member of RYA Council and has been Chair of the RYA Sail Cruising Committee and the RYA Legal and Government Affairs Committee; his legal background combined with his sound judgement enabled him to be an outstanding Chairman of both groups.
A man on a mission
One of Bruce’s passions was his boat, the mahogany cruiser, Josephine of Hoo. Bruce would say to his wife: “You are the love of my life.” But Olivia, his second wife, always had a sneaking suspicion that she was only inches ahead of Josephine, ‘the other woman.’
Josephine was a perfect match for Bruce’s desire to get out and explore the world. Together, Bruce and Josephine visited the Faroes, Shetland, Denmark, and Holland as well as frequent visits to the West Coast of Scotland. It sometimes seemed that the purpose of each trip to the West Coast was to find an even more difficult anchorage to access, but that was Bruce, and strangely these anchorages often seemed to be most interesting if near a whisky distillery!
Bruce was a highly accomplished yachtsman and obviously felt at ease at sea. In the early 1990s, Bruce became entranced by the potential of the World Wide Web and he was a driving force in the development of the RYA website.
Bruce’s life was a triumph in so many ways. He was a man who achieved a great deal and enjoyed life to the full, despite the limitations and frustrations caused by long-term ill health.
Nationally and regionally, the RYA, the RNYC and boating in general is indebted to Bruce for his invaluable contribution over the past 50 years.
Our condolences go to all those who knew Bruce and our sincere thanks go to Olivia and Bruce’s friends in the North East for sharing their happy memories.