Choral Compline in St Catharine's College Chapel

Alison & I followed another of Brian's recomendations to hear music in the Chapel at St Catharines.

We went to the Choral Compline service after the formal dinner leaving the young students in the bar. The regulars made sure they had a good cushion and were comfortable before the 5 minute silence. (Sleep was not ruled out!)

 With the small college members choir* of 5 male and 5 female voices the singing really brought out the excellent acoustics of the chapel that Brian would have recognised.
The Chapel organ, right,  also had a superb sound after it was rebuilt in 1978 and further matched to the Chapel in 2002.

 Changes since Brian's day include the change they all looked forward to with the admission of women but he might not have imagined a female Master at the college and as for the choir of schoolgirls! Hearing the full choirs for carols has gone onto our list.

Raising a Glass to Brian at St. Catharines Hall

Laura managed to get 3 Guest tickets to dine in the MCR Formal Dinner at St Catharine's College Hall.
There were guests from four other colleges that resulted in all 250 seats being booked for a full and lively evening.

Brian would of course recognised the hall, the rules, such as not leaving the table between the two gongs, grace in Latin, etc. John a new member of Emma and other colleges were surprised by the Katz strict adherence to traditional protocols.

We raised a glass to Brian, it seemed right, after the pudding gong and the port was passed.

For more Cambridge news about Brian's grandson John & Laura, see this post on the McGonigle family blog at www.mcgonigle.co.uk


Brian's record at St. Catharine's Boat Club

Whilst at St. Catharine's he was indeed actively involved in the Boat Club, winning the Fuller Cup for Senior Sculls in the 1952. I believe the Fuller Cup is a College prize for an open sculls competition. 

The College's Boat Club minute book for the period record Burtt as a member of the Club from his arrival. In Michaelmas Term 1949 he rowed in the 2nd Division 3rd Boat at number 4 and the boat moved up 11 places. In the 1950 Races Brian was in the 2nd VIII almost continuously. In 1951 he moved up to the 1st VIII. 

The minute book also records Brian's victory in the Open Sculls (Fuller Cup) competition in Lent Term 1952.

Thanks again go to Elizabeth Ennion-Smith the Archivist at St. Catharine's College who supplied the information in these 3 posts.


BA with Honours despite his Rowing!

Brian took Part 1 of the Mathematical Tripos in 1950 but unfortunately failed to get a third, so was awarded a 'Special' (which would contribute to an ordinary BA rather than a BA with honours). He went on to read for Part 1 of the English Tripos in 1951, but having to fit two years worth of work into one year caused him to come away with a third.He also gained a third in Part 2 of the English Tripos in 1952. 

In the references written for him, his Tutor had hoped he might get a second, but he spent too much time rowing! He is described as a 'rowing fanatic' and had a trial for the University, but I do not believe he was selected for the team. In the references written for him when applying for teaching positions he is described as a 'straightforward, likeable man' who 'I would trust anywhere'.

Brian's full life and various careers did not seem to have been hindered by his dedication to rowing over the academic life. He certainly testified that he took away a network of contacts, lifelong friendships and the College ethos from his time at St Catharines.


Brian's School Years.

The following posts contain information from the St Catharine's College archive.
Thanks go to Elizabeth Ennion-Smith the Archivist at Kats and Laura Burzynsky a current member of the college and fiancee to John McGonigle, Brian's grandson.

Brian was born on the 24th August 1928 to Frederick Richard Burtt, a company secretary in St. Albans.
Prior to coming up to St. Catharine's Brian attended Eastbourne Grammar School (1939-1940) a
nd St. Albans County School (1941-1946). Eastbourne Grammar School is noted as an 'Evacuation School' so he may have been evacuated during the war. After school Brian did his military service with the RAF, and was released in June 1949, enabling him to come up to St. Catharine's in October 1949. 

I believe he came up a little earlier that summer to re-acquaint himself with University work.


Raising a Glass to Brian on his Birthday

Alison and I sat down to a special meal to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Brian's Birth tonight. We raised a glass of Saint-Aubin Le Paradis Domaine, Hubert Lamy, 1999, from a case that Brian had put down himself.

I will try to record what other appellations or tipples were drunk around his friends and family, and encourage the others who also raised a glass to leave their comments here.


Alison returns to Navy Gardens, Christ Church, Barbados.

Alison, Brian's daughter, returned to her place of birth recently for her significant birthday. Brian was posted to Barbados by the Midland Bank after some time on Trinidad & Tobago.

The address on her birth certificate was Flat 3, Navy Gardens, Christ Church, Barbados. We went in search for Navy Gardens and when close went on foot asking the friendly Bajans for directions. We met a young ex-pat family who lived in the Gardens area and they pointed to the only flats.

No. 3 was the upstairs flat in this photo. Was this where Barbara and Brian Burtt brought home their baby girl?

See http://www.hillfray.co.uk/ for a link to a slideshow of Rob's photos from Barbados.
WARNING: These are large high-resolution images and require a broadband link to view easily.


Thank you to the Teddington & Hampton Wick Voluntary Care Group

Brian's time in Teddington was significantly improved with the help of the local voluntary care group. As his health limited his mobility they were there to help him to get out and about. First walkers would encourage him to get out with sticks then with his frame. The bus trips to the shops and garden centres helped him to continue living independently and extended Brian's social links. Two of the volunteer drivers, Chris and Colin, came to the crematorium. Colin was able to come on to 'the wake' where he was joined by Natalie who also became Brian's hairdresser. We have also been in touch with Miriam at their office. They all spoke of how much they enjoyed Brian's company and wicked sense of humor.

Recognizing all the help and care that Brian received all the donations in lieu of flowers were sent to the Teddington & Hampton Wick Voluntary Care Group. Some of their core services are funded but your donations can allow them to add the Christmas Party etc. These social events help to enrich the lives of many with limited mobility and also says thanks to the volunteers.


'The Wake' at Harrowdene Gardens

Brian's challenge to us was to drink his flat dry. Unfortunately my father had taken to buying in bulk whenever he saw a bargain or he could get stocks delivered. The stock highlights included over 4 litres of Gin, over 3 cases of red wine and plenty of beer, whiskies etc. The number of drivers was managed well and so we had a good go before sending all home with a bottle or 2 to raise a glass to Brian with.

Brian's Gardeners, Jane and Helene.

Alison, Audrey & Katherine.

Chris, Rob, Jacqui & Pat.

Entry posted by Alison McGonigle (Brian's Daughter)


We Failed Brian!

Brian's clear instructions left with the will was that there was to be
  • No Funeral.
  • No memorial service.
  • Or suchlike.
Brian Edward Burtt was an English Graduate from St. Catherine's College, Cambridge and he knew how to remove any wriggle room - "or suchlike".

Alison McGonigle, his surviving daughter, acted quickly to organise the donation of his body according to his plans but the hospital needed to establish cause of death. This delay prevented his donation being accepted so we had to book the Hanworth Crematorium for the 5th Sept.
Everywhere she went that week, Alison met with carers, his cleaner, even volunteer drivers that took him to the supermarket who were shocked and upset and wanted to "say goodbye" at the crem.
So we failed even more and on the day had a good turnout at from his family, carers and neighbours.
I took the task of crafting a simple farewell to Brian, that would not mock his wishes but nevertheless allow a time for those he left behind to say goodbye. It took the form of:
  • A reading of the "Elven Hymn to Elbereth"
    from 'The Fellowship of the Ring', J.R.R Tolkein,
    read by Brian's Grandson Richard McGonigle.
    Brian was a great reader of Tolkein.
  • A long silence. Many peoples of the book, Catholic, CofE, Orthadox, and Muslim were represented and this allowed them to privately say their words in their traditions.
  • The last post was played.
  • Brian went out to Soul Limbo by Booker T.
    This represented his family's tradition of cricket, his love of the game and his time in the West Indies.
The TMS theme tune produced a few chortles and sent us out to talk of Brian and on to 'the wake'. To fail again with his instruction to drink his flat dry but we would have a good try!

Rob McGonigle, Brian's Son in Law.