Brian McIver died peacefully on January 10, 2018, at the Conquest Hospital in Hastings. He was 78. He had lived in Udimore Road, Rye since 1998. He was born on February 20, 1939 at Beverley in Western Australia and spent his childhood there.
After working in Beverley at Wesfarmers, a farmers’ co-operative, which has become one of Australia’s largest companies with interests in England such as Homebase, he set off for England in 1966. He spent some time with relatives in Glenboig in Scotland before making his way to London, a magnet for young Australians in the Sixties. His parents were Scots, who had emigrated to Australia to join other relatives.
With a friend from Beverley, Kevin Eyre, he worked first at the Cumberland Hotel in Marble Arch and then at the Park Court Hotel opposite Hyde Park, both owned by Lyons and then by Trusthouse Forte. For a time, Brian worked, as an employee of the Middlesex Hospital, at Astor College, a hall of residence in Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, where he came to know a lot of trainee doctors. To some, he became a sort of confidant, and when he left there, they all signed a group photograph for him. In later life, he would see one of them on television and recount a story or two about them!
The then Middlesex Hospital, which was closed in 2005 and demolished, was held in great affection by many students. Fitzrovia News, the Rye News of its area, run by volunteers, quotes one of its former student doctors, who used to ‘walk the wards’, as saying that the smells and the sounds of the old hospital were very different to a modern hospital. Just by walking, you’d experience different sounds because some of the floors were wooden. He remembered the grand wooden panelling, the chapel, and the Frederick Cayley Robinson’s Acts of Mercy paintings, which used to hang in the foyer. Such was the tradition in which Brian worked. Rather different from today.
Subsequently, he worked at Latimer House Day Hospital in Hanson Street and at a day centre in St John’s Wood. He had a great empathy for the old and lonely and listened with great interest to the stories of their lives, some of them very interesting lives indeed.
Brian was creative. He loved his garden and created a beautiful space for relaxation at his home in London, much enjoyed by family and other visitors. He loved birds and spent far too much on feeding them! Brian was thoughtful and deeply spiritual but had difficulty giving expression to his thoughts. He was not happy with the changes in the Catholic Church made by Vatican 2 and, while living in Notting Hill, loved worshipping at the Carmelite church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St Simon Stock in Church Street, Kensington. He never forgot his Latin prayers, which he would quote happily. He had a ready smile and a sly sense of humour, which often was misunderstood and got him on occasions into hot water!
The youngest, and last-surviving, of seven brothers and sisters, Brian loved his family and felt the death of his remaining sister, Kath, very keenly. He returned many times to Western Australia to see his family and they returned the compliment by making many visits to see him both in London and in Rye.
His funeral is being held on February 9 at 11.45am at Hastings Crematorium and will be conducted by Fr. Eamonn Monson of St Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Hastings.
Photo: Paul Saulter