The family of a former deputy at Point of Ayr colliery have “a thousand memories” of their beloved father, husband, grandfather and great-grandfather.

Brian Gildart, of Mostyn, lived a “full and long life” before he died in his Mostyn home of lung cancer, aged 81, on Christmas Eve 2017.

Mr Gildart was described as a “larger-than-life” character by his family, who said he will be “greatly missed” by all.

Born in 1936 in Lancashire, Mr Gildart became a miner aged just 15 where he climbed the ranks to becoming a deputy collier before moving to work in the Point of Ayr colliery, in Talacre, in 1972.

His father and grandfather had been miners in a Lancashire colliery, and the late Mr Gildart decided to carry on the tradition by introducing his son Keith into the pits as a teenager.

The family said he was “very proud” when his only son became a Professor of History through night school after obtaining only one GCSE.

He was known among the colliers at Point of Ayr as ‘Hard Rock’ due to his important role of “shot firer” into the rocks.

According to his family and friends: “If you couldn’t see him, you could definitely hear him,” and: “Once seen, never forgotten.”

Sheila, his wife of 62 years, along with daughters Beverley and Lorraine and son Keith, said Mr Gildart was “generous to a fault” and thought of himself “as the head of the family.”

They said: “Ask anyone what he was like, and they’ll say he was a one-off character. He didn’t try and be funny, it just came naturally to him. He had no filter.”

Mr Gildart was “a well known bowler” and frequented local competitions in his latter years. His family said his garden brought him much delight, and that he was very fond of his dahlias in particular.

As “head of the family,” Mr Gildart “knew everyone’s business,” and according to daughter Lorraine: “He still bossed us around as though we were 15.”

The family enjoyed many cruise holidays, and focused their time and effort on seeing as much of the world as possible.

Mr Gildart enjoyed 18 cruises in his lifetime but also had a soft spot for his Blackpool caravan, named ‘Miner’s Rest’, where he would go fishing in the nearby pond almost every weekend.

One particular memory Lorraine recalled was during a cruise one summer. She said: a “We were all sitting in a sedate, serene piano bar, with the tinkling piano playing. Next thing, my dad burst through the door shouting ‘I’ve dropped the bandit!’ and the whole quiet room turned to look at him.”

His family said he was often to be seen either going for a walk on Holywell High Street, “in the bookies, or in the travel agents.”

Mr Gildart had a strong accent and the family joked he “needed an interpretator” for others to understand his thick
Lancashire accent which remained even after 46 years in North Wales.

His most famous saying which will forever remind the family of his humorous nature is: “Hard work never hurt anybody – but it left a few in queer shape.”

Beverley recalled her father telling the family he “didn’t want any tears” after he passed.

He told them: “I’ve had a long life, 27 years of retirement, and I’ve been all over the world. I want you to hope you live as long as me and I hope you live a long life.”

Mr Gildart leaves many fond memories with his wife, children, his six grandchildren, Lee, Jonathan, Leanne, Nicola, Gareth, and Ellie, and his five grand-children, Paddy, Katie, Ryan, Noah and Jay-Jay.