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Family pays tribute to Brian Macknish

The family of a man who helped found the Thames & Medway Canal Association have paid tribute after he died at the age of 82.

Brian Macknish died at EllenorLions Hospice in Northfleet.

He leaves behind wife Barbara, daughters Jayne and Claire, and granddaughter Sian.

Brian Macknish
Brian Macknish

Mr Macknish, who lived in the hamlet of Hodsoll Street, near Meopham, was born in 1931 in Beckenham and lived a few doors down from his future wife.

Mrs Macknish said: “Brian wasn’t an academic scholar. He was more of a hands-on man. He was very good with mechanics and motorbikes.

“His main passion was the Scouts when he was younger and he went on right through to Rovers. I think that’s where he found his love of nature and the outdoors.

“We both lived in Kent House Lane but because of an age difference I had nothing to do with him.

“He’d go past the window in his pointed Scouts hat and my mum would say ‘there’s that nice boy’.

Brian Macknish
Brian Macknish

“It wasn’t until I was 16 that I was going up the road to see my friend Pam and there was this group of bikers and they’d be standing there like blokes do and I decided to cross the road to avoid them.

“That was probably the first time they noticed me because I wasn’t a little girl anymore.

“About two years later, there was this old tennis club that this group of people wanted to start up again.

“I came home one day and there was Brian, sitting in the armchair getting my mum and dad to join the tennis club and they signed me up, too. That was the first time I met him.

“We’d lived in the same road for all those years and when I was 18 we started going out when we had socials at the pavilion.”

Brian Macknish
Brian Macknish

In 1949, Mr Macknish, a keen golfer and table tennis player, completed his two years National Service, joining the Royal Engineers.

He then became an apprentice for a lithographic print firm, working for several companies in London and working his way up to management.

The couple married in 1959 and moved to Riverview, Gravesend, in 1961, where they stayed for the next 30 years.

They then moved to Hodsoll Street and lived there for the past 20 years.

Brian Macknish and his wife on their wedding day
Brian Macknish and his wife on their wedding day

It was in 1976 that he read a report about people wanting to clean up and make use again of the Thames and Medway Canal.

Attending the meeting, the association was formed at once.

Mr Macknish was still working, now running his own wedding stationery business with his wife.

He continued until he was 60 and then carried on his passion, creating a leisure area along the canal, becoming chairman of the association in 2006 until his death.

Mrs Macknish added: “There’s a terrible feeling of loss. He was everything to me.

“I suppose you don’t realise how much you miss people until they’re gone.

“He was always talking about the canal but now he’s gone,you realise how much he did around the house.

“He did everything here, anything that needed doing.

“He was still chopping logs and playing golf. He made his own wine, he even did cross-stitch.”

Brian Macknish
Brian Macknish

He had suffered from prostate cancer but had complications from gall bladder septicaemia.

His wife was called to EllenorLions at 5am on May 18, and he died just after 7am with his wife by his side.

His funeral took place last Wednesday at Medway Crematorium.

Songs played at his funeral included Over And Over by Nana Mouskouri and Glenn Miller’s In The Mood.

Asked how she’ll remember her husband, Mrs Macknish said: “His infinite patience, his optimism, his selflessness, the generosity of his time and his tenacity to get things done.”

Anyone who would like to donate in Mr Macknish’s memory can send a cheque, payable to B. Macknish to Morris & Partners, 39 Windmill Street, Gravesend, DA12 1BA.

The money will be split between EllenorLions Hospices and the Thames & Medway Canal Association.

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