We were deeply saddened to hear that our good friend and colleague Brian Malpas passed away peacefully at his home in Somerset on 10th January 2020, after being seriously ill for some time. He had been in hospital for several weeks but it was his wish to return home where he was well cared for by his partner, Barbara Roberts, and his sons, and PALS nurses.
Brian was born in Birmingham, in the English Midlands in 1935, and served in the Army, in the Sherwood Forresters, before joining the Birmingham City Police where he served from 1951-1953. He joined the Bermuda Police on 29th May 1957 along with Jim Woodward, and served for 3 years in Central Division (Hamilton) before being transferred to Western Division where he spent the majority of his police service.
Brian was posted to Marine Section in 1960 where he obtained his Pilot’s Licence and developed a lifelong love of the sea and sailing for the rest of his life, becoming a first-class diver and a good friend of Bermuda’s legendary diver Teddy Tucker.
After 3 years in Marine Section, Brian returned to Western Division and apart from a 4 year spell in Central Uniform from 1976-1980, he spent the rest of his career in Western Division until retirement in 1982.
Brian married his wife, Betty (nee Lightbourn) in 1961 and they had four sons, David, Peter, Christopher and Robin, all of whom still reside in Bermuda. His wife Betty pre-deceased him
In recent years Brian had a wonderful partner, Barbara Roberts, and the two would regularly attend our ExPo functions. We heard the sad news of Brian’s passing from Dave Barber who recalled that Barbara has known Brian for longer than anyone else in Bermuda because the two came out on the same ship as each other and have always kept in touch with each other.
Anyone who knew Brian would surely agree that he was one of the great characters of the Bermuda Police. I had approached him numerous times with a request that he sit down and write his own lifestory, but Brian would always say, “If I wrote it you could never publish it!”
Brian Malpas takes Dave Mulhall on a diving expedition
One young police officer who got to know Brian very well in the mid-1960’s was former P.C. David Mulhall who later wrote an account of his time in Bermuda, and he made the following comment about Brian, “If I had to identify one former Bermuda Police colleague as the most interesting, larger than life "character" I got to know "on the job" I would have no difficulty choosing Brian Malpas - until I realized that I had never actually worked with him. Brian’s escapades on or off duty were legendary and often hilariously funny, especially if he told the story. He loved recounting the details of his sometimes outrageous practical jokes.” Brian taught Dave to dive and you can read more about their friendship in our Hall of Fame article about Dave which can be viewed at http://expobermuda.com/index.php/latesthof/472-david-mulhall
As we couldn’t hear Brian’s stories from Brian himself we asked his old friends and colleagues to send us their reminiscences of him, and here are some of the comments we’ve received
My memories of Brian “Underwater” Malpas go back more than 50 years - to the days when John Fox was the mess caterer at St Georges and Jim McMaster was the Inspector-in-charge of the police station there; days when Sgt. Bob Curnow used to go upstairs to the CID office on night shifts and descend just before his troops arrived back in after a ‘hectic' eight hours patrolling the East End - It was circa 1964 and the time of the Beatles: Halcyon days! — But anyway, I digress.
I write today to express my great sadness at the news of Brian’s passing and I am particularly upset as it is my intention to revisit my once adopted home later this year and he was high on my visit list to renew past acquaintances. I was generally aware of his ongoing health situation and having travelled the same road only recently myself and survived, it is a morbid subject that we might even have shared opinions a while! But, so be it, Brian’s time has finally arrived and we are left to respect and remember his presence amongst us and to be thankful thus far for the memory. On hearing of his sad demise, I contacted Dave Barber and Margie who were to put me in the picture.
I never actually worked alongside Brian within the job; he was more familiar to me as a neighbour in Somerset when I transferred to the West End (the best end) and settled in with my new wife, Lynn. It was during those sublime days, about 1965, when Brian, Mike Cherry and I, each of us new fathers, were to produce our number-one sons, David, Dennis, and Michael respectively. (Of course, this was not without a little assistance from Betty, Ann and Lynn!)
Opposite Mike’s house in Scott’s Hill Road stood Zeta Pitman’s nursery which was the safe meeting place of these new young boys on the block from their very earliest days and what they learned from each other there will probably remain a secret to them, though my son can’t remember much of what antics they reportedly got up to. Zeta’s place was where we all met from time to time and it was here, dropping off my charge, that I first came across Brian and began to learn of the obsession he then already possessed, about the wonders of sea surrounding us and spending all his available spare moments exploring the depths and wonders of the translucent waters from a variety of small craft, possibly crafted by another neighbour of ours, Keith Lovell.
Brian was to move on to seeking wrecks which abounded at the bottom of the reefs and became quite an expert and the person to go to. For a change of pace, I believe he would occasionally partner Derek ‘Father’ Burgess as crew in a Firefly on race days. Whilst I was out and about in my available free time, scratching about blindly for evidence of previous life on the island, I used to occasionally see Brian afloat around Cavello Bay, doing the same but for life under the surface, (I would also sometimes spy a young David Barber submerging himself under Grey’s bridge with a piece of lead pipe around his waist, in his search for old marble bottles!)
Back to the present time and perhaps on a slightly sombre note at this sad time, a pertinent and personal observation entered my memory which reminded me of the time, just a couple of years ago of the death of Dr David Saul, a former president of Bermuda. The Royal Gazette of May 20, 1971 published online the following news story (http://www.royalgazette.com/news/article/20170519/i-dont-want-to-go-in-ordinary-way) which fascinated me. Headed ‘I don’t want to go in an ordinary way’, it reported on his amazing burial ceremony at sea and explained in detail about how his body was lowered in a casket, designed by himself, into the ocean which he, like Brian, loved so much and which was to earn him great wealth in his lifetime. I quote from this article after telling how he designed such a casket in the knowledge that he was soon to die;
…. 'A keen diver, fisherman and kayaker, he told this newspaper in 2006: “I live in Devonshire Bay and I look out of the window and there’s the sea. I have spent a good portion of my life on top of it or underneath it. This is the way I want to say farewell."'
'Mr de Couto, a dive buddy of Dr Saul’s, added: “Knowing David, he wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.”
I believe that Brian might have concurred!
I should close now, suffice to say that old Father Time has passed his sentence and all that will now remain is a memory. To all of his close family and many friends, Lynn and I forward our best wishes from the country in which he was born and I dare to suggest that time alone will eventually ease the pain of the way ahead. To the Malpas children, I will add that your parents were well loved and respected by all who knew them.
Rest in Peace Brian.
I have had the pleasure of knowing Brian since November 1965 when I was transferred to Western Division after the localisation course.
I feel privileged to say Brian has been a good friend to me and my family.
I could write a book about Brian and his happy and amusing moments but I will confine myself to his off duty activities. He played soccer in the interdivisional soccer tournaments and for Western Division against visiting R.N. ships. He played squash, tennis, golf, all to different standards!
Brian played cricket for "The All Stars Team" and I remember vividly when he took a brilliant diving catch whilst in the slips, breaking his collar bone but still hanging on to the ball. Indoor sport was confined to playing darts for the Somerset team, and holding his own in the consumption of Becks beer.
Brian greatest assets involved activities on and under the sea, both swimming and diving. Brian had a registered wreck which he discovered himself and several years ago presented his collection of artifacts to The Bermuda Maritime Museum.
He loved fishing and I had the pleasure of spending countless hours with him on the water.
After retiring from the Police he became a fisheries officer and a very capable one, using the knowledge he gained over the years of fishermen who abided by the law and those who broke the law.
Brian's main love on the water was sailing and his knowledge of sailing was second to none. He sailed in the Newport to Bermuda race and represented Bermuda many times in the Sunfish World Championships overseas. I could write pages more about his activities but will leave that for others.
I travelled with Brian on many interesting trips, New York, Boston, Delaware, New Orleans, & Key West Florida. In 1997 we spent three weeks in the U.K. and visited Brian's mum and sister in Birmingham followed by us visiting my mother in Chester.
As I close I must mention his love for his dogs, Patches the terrier who he took everywhere on his bike and in his boat. Bella, his present dog also enjoyed many boating trips.
I would be remiss not to mention Brian's family who he was so very proud of, his wife Betty who sadly passed, and the four boys (now men) David, Peter, Chris & Robin.
In recent years his closest friend was Barbara Roberts. Barbara had actually travelled out to Bermuda in the 1950's on the same ship as Brian, and she has been a pillar of strength during his prolonged illness.
I last saw Brian two days prior to his death Roddy Barclay and myself paid a final visit to a dear friend.
Gerry Benson spoke to me from the U.K. informing me he worked with Brian in Central uniform in 1977, and that he had learned so much from Brian not just about Police Work but life in general.
Rest in Peace Brian
John "Coco" Eve
Malps represented Bermuda in a number of Olympic Games in what I believe was at first the Sunfish class which may have turned into the Laser. The first couple of times he was selected on merit and if what he told me was true there were places available after this which had to be financed by the competitor.
As Betty was employed by the airlines, Malps got very cheap travel and was thus able to sail.To take this further Malps enjoyed his cheap travel which he took full advantage of, visiting friends all over the world (mainly the U.S.) where he would see a friend, Joe Husty on many occasions. I went twice with him to J
On a few occasions I would be vacationing in New York or Boston when the phone would go with the voice at the other end saying words to the effect of “Hey Cokes I just happened to be close. Are you able to put me up?” He certainly had a few cheap holidays. I once hired a car in Boston and somehow we managed to end up in Rhode Island in a bar drinking Becks.I think DB May remember some of this as I believe it was the time I went with him when he was admitted to hospital.
What an amazing and lovely man Brian was. I'm so very sad that he has died. But what a man and what a legacy.
He was born as far away from the sea as you could get in the UK, Birmingham, but he became a top mariner. He taught me so much about the sea. I first met him in Somerset 1971. He was the local policeman. Parish Constable. We got on from day one. I can't even begin to tell you how cool Brian was. He had no side but maybe he should have. I had no idea at the time that he had his own "ship wreck". I think it was a wrecked Spanish Galleon (he told me how this came about which is another story) which made him very special indeed.
Brian was a friend and associate of the famous, treasure finder, Teddy Tucker. Anyway he asked me and Dick Naylor if we would like to go out on his "barge". The "barge" was a 50 ft flat topped vessel that had one purpose. Diving and treasure finding. The barge, using demand valves and air supplied from the deck had no real-time diving restrictions and being under for several hours was not a problem. Dick and I were regulars for many years. We used air blowers at the wreck to uncover all sorts of artefacts, mostly cannon balls in our case but the occasional doubloon. Not really! We would always stop on our way back to free dive for conch and Bermuda lobster at Brian's special sites.
Thanks Brian for teaching me how to catch a lobster with a noose! RIP mate.
It was Brian’s wish to buried at sea although this presented some difficulty as Bermuda was lashed by gale force winds and throughout the week when this was scheduled.
The skies finally cleared on Tuesday 22nd January and family and friends headed out to deep water from King’s Wharf at Dockyard in the “Elizabeth” where Gloria Malpas gave a most moving tribute to “PopPops” on behalf of his loving family. “Malps” returned to the sea for the last time with beautiful individual red carnations dotting the rolling waves. We had a group of Brian’s old police mates on board paying their last respects to one of our great characters, and retired Chief Inspector Hilton “Jellybean” Wingood came to the wharf to pay his respects.
Tribute to Brian
By Gloria Malpas
Welcome to all and thank you for coming out this afternoon to lay PopPop to rest. We are remembering those who couldn't be with us today – Kip, Addy and Sydney who are away in school, as well as dear Betty who we are especially thinking about on this day and always.
Most important is a huge thank you to his 4 sons for reading the weather apps correctly so we could get out here on a relatively calm but beautiful day! We wish to thank Kirk and his family for the use of his boat to bring PopPop out here for his last boat ride.
We would like to thank Barbara for all her support and care over the last 8 years, especially during the past few months. We know he could be difficult but you braved through it all and we sincerely appreciate it.
We would like to thank PALS, especially Kathy Fox, Dr. Alacondi, Dr. Harris and all the home nurses for their compassionate and excellent care to make PopPop’s last days comfortable for him. Until you are in a situation like this, you don’t realize how much PALS actually do to take care of and support not only the sick, but also the family left behind. Please help support PALS by making donations in PopPop’s memory to them.
We would like to thank Jodina and Pearman’s Funeral Home for being able to accommodate us in fulfilling PopPop’s last wishes and bringing him out here. Your ability to work with us for last minute changes and cancellations helped to ease the stress of it all.
Thank you to all who visited and called to check up on PopPop the past few weeks, and to those that checked up on the family after his passing.
Thank you to Ian and Scott who will be playing Amazing Grace for us in a few minutes. And also to Gypsy for allowing us to use his workshop to construct the slide platform. If we have missed anyone, please forgive us but just know we are and will always be sincerely grateful.
PopPop was a comedian right up to his last day. His dry and sarcastic sense of humour will be remembered fondly. Peter, in helping him out of his chair one day, came face to face (just inches) with PopPop who looked him in the eye and said “Give us a kiss”….
We would like to read you a poem that was shared with Chris & Sue by Sonia & Ian Finnerty, with their blessing of course, which we think is appropriate at this time entitled Death Is Nothing At All, and then Sue will read another poem entitled Alone I Will Not Be.
Death Is Nothing At All
By Henry Scott-Holland
Death is nothing at all.
It does not count.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Nothing has happened.
Everything remains exactly as it was.
I am I, and you are you,
and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by the old familiar name.
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is absolute and unbroken continuity.
What is this death but a negligible accident?
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval,
somewhere very near,
just round the corner.
All is well.
Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before.
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again.
Read by Sue
Alone I Will Not Be
By Capt. Chad Theesfeld
My comfort will come from the sea
The stillness of calm waves will gently drift by
I will be as one with the sea
When the sun sets on the ocean blue, remember me as I will always remember you
As the sun rises... go live life as full as can be
Apart… you and me… but be at peace for I am free