Leatherhead Parish Church: Ken Bryant - 1921 - 2016

Service of Thanksgiving

for the Life of


23rd March 1921 - 5th February 2016

Leatherhead Parish Church

Wednesday 9th March

Order of Service

Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring— J.S.Bach


Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us
O'er the world's tempestuous sea



Isaiah 40 v 28-31 — by Richard Bryant

The Measure of a Man — read by Fiona Bryant

Not,how did he die, but how did he live?
Not, what did he gain, but what did he give
These are the units to measure the worth
Of a man as a man regardless of birth.
Not what was his church, not what was his creed.
But had he befriended those really in need?
Was he ever ready, with a word of good cheer,
to bring back a smile, to banish a tear?
Not what did the bit in the newspaper say,
But how many were sorry when he passed away?


Carer's Tribute — by Helen McIntyre

Hello, my name is Helen and I am just one of the small team of Caregivers from HomeInstead, who have been supporting Christine and Ken since December 2011 when he was first diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

From the word go Ken certainly made an impression! His dry sense of humour, impeccable manners and marvellous turn of phrase made him such a pleasure to be with.

Everyone was aware of his high level of intelligence but we were also struck with his wonderful humility and his deep love and respect for Christine.

Ken was well read and articulate and had a wicked sense of humour. We got on like a house on fire and there were times I would have to stop the car because I was laughing so hard at something he'd said.

He would quote Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde and others and would astound me with his love and understanding of the English language. We had spoken spelling quizzes, which he would normally win of course, with words like evocative, rhythm and aneurysm and, every now and again, he loved telling limericks! He particularly liked the one about 'the girl from Australia who went to a dance as a dahlia'. I'll leave it there!

Ken had lovely old fashioned manners; he let ladies go first; held doors open, and ensured that we walked on the inside of the pavement so we were safe from the traffic.

He was also fiercely independent and hated being helped in any way which meant we all had to learn to be creative in the ways we supported him so that his dignity remained intact.

One of my tricks was to pretend I couldn't get my coat on and do my buttons or zip up without a bit of help and it would make it so much easier for me to reciprocate when he struggled in the same way. We would then giggle at our joint inadequacies.

I was fortunate enough to support Ken and Christine to go on holiday on four separate occasions. My memories of these times will stay with me for ever and I smile whenever I think of them.
Everyone from HomeInstead loved spending time with Ken too. I'd like to read you some of their words.

Sara said: I always thought of Ken as a true gentleman. I was so glad to have met him.
Roger had a special bond with him and it was obvious that Ken really appreciated having a male companion. He told me: Ken and I had so many wonderful times together and I always looked forward to our Wednesday afternoons; we swapped stories about our life experiences; we never stopped having fun and enjoying one another's company.
Caroline said; Ken was a gentleman who was absolutely charming. He had great wit.
Kay, a personal friend and caregiver said; He was one of life's gems - a kind sensitive man with a wicked sense of humour.

And finally Veronica's words; Ken filled my time with him with stories and, no matter how often repeated, I felt the essence of the times he spoke of, and lived them with him. I miss his stories. I miss him.

We all feel immensely privileged to have known Ken and to have shared some of his journey, and although we miss him, we are so glad that he was spared any further indignities of his illness and was able to pass away in such a peaceful place with his devoted wife at his side.

Roger summed up the feelings of all of us from HomeInstead when he said 'Ken was such a lovely gentleman in every sense of the word'.

Ken's favourite poem — by Helen McIntyre

I'd like to finish with a few of the words from the beginning and the end of the poem, The Listeners by Walter de la Mare, which Ken loved to quote. They were never 100% accurate, and he couldn't quite remember what came in the middle, but he always said these particular lines with such drama ... I'm sure they will be familiar to some of you.

Is there anybody there?" said the Traveller,
Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champed the grass
Of the forest's ferny floor;
"Tell them I came, he said,
Tell them that I kept my word

God Bless you Ken

Reverend Graham Osborne

O Jesus I have promised to serve thee to the end;
Be thou for ever near me, my Master and my Friend


Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven,
To his feet thy tribute bring,




from Faure's Requiem

Donations, if desired to Samaritans,
or c/o Hawkins & Sons Ltd., Highlands Road, Leatherhead KT22 8ND

Ken's family invite you to meet them for refreshments in the Church Hall after the service.

Ken with one of his carers at the top of Box Hill
from the back page of his Order of Service.
His photo on the front page was taken at his daughter Fiona's wedding in 1991

14.2.16: Ken Bryant, former Churchwarden, died on 5th February. His funeral will be in Church at 1.45pm on Wednesday 9th March. Please remember Christine and their family in your prayers.

from the March 2016 parish  magazine, with added photos

Ken Bryant

Ken Bryant was a very good servant to the church, and to Leatherhead. His welcoming smile, his kindness and gentle humour will be much missed.
He was churchwarden twice, also a Samaritan, and then a member of the Victim Support team.

Ken was an only child, born in Bristol in 1921. His parents' background was not academic, but Ken won two scholarships, first to Bristol Grammar School, then to St. John's College College, Oxford, where he gained a First Class Honours degree in Chemistry.

As a science student, Ken was not called up for military service in the Second World War, and only graduated in 1943, He then spent a year in Trinidad analysing the component parts of different petrols.

On his return to the UK, he joined Monsanto Chemicals and stayed with them for the rest of his career. He enjoyed developing new petroleum-based plastic products, such as Clingfilm.

He and his [first] wife Hilda met in Watford in 1948, when she was headmistress of a school and ran a Youth Group. Ken became involved in running the "Boys' Night", and shocked a visiting Education Officer by allowing the boys to address him as Ken. He worked in many different places, finishing in London in the 1960s. He and Hilda and their three children moved to Leatherhead, where they both joined the church and the Samaritans, and started a Drama Group. They called their new house "Quintus" - it was the fifth home!

Ken, Hilda and their three children; Richard, Fiona and Peter, about 1960

Hilda died in 1983, and in 1986 Ken and Christine were married. They were both very active in church life, and both had a mother in her nineties. They spent a happy thirty years in Bookham and Leatherhead, always closely connected to Leatherhead church. After two stints as churchwarden under Sandy Morris, Ken chaired the Parish Survey for David Eaton, and produced its report on the state of the parish.

Ken - taking a break during gardening, Bookham

Ken and Christine - in a paperweight!

At the top of Mount Vesuvius, 1989

On 4th August 2011, a small group of people, gathered from three continents, met to celebrate the anniversary of a very special couple:
Ken & Christine Bryant. Children, grandchildren and extended family came together to honour them on this happy occasion.

Latterly, he has delighted his carers and everyone he met with his humour, and enjoyed reciting rhymes and limericks to them!
Alison Wright

Ken Bryant - from the May 2016 magazine

Heartfelt thanks to so many who have sent us such heart-warming letters and cards with sympathy and appreciation of dear Ken, what he was and what he did. We do miss him, but are really encouraged by all the friendship and support we have received. And we trust in the promise of new life for him in the presence of our Lord whom he served.
Christine Bryant and family

Kenneth Bryant at Monsanto 1948 -1977 or 8

Leaving Oxford, where he was at St. John's College, in 1943 with a First in Chemistry, Ken worked for Trinidad Leaseholds on the spectroscopic analysis of petroleum, spending a year in Trinidad where his chief concern had to be to prevent his rock-salt prism from melting in the heat.

In 1948 Ken started working at Ruabon. Newly married, he and Hilda moved into one of the new staff houses Monsanto had built on Vicarage Field. There he learned to enjoy gardening, and also had time for amateur dramatics.

In 1955 Ken moved to the Home Counties, (work place unknown to family), then in about 1958 he took charge of the research plant at Fawley, near Southampton, on the development of plastics. It was probably the place where he most enjoyed his work. In about 1962 he moved to Newport, to a new house and a garden, where he built a dry-stone wall.

In about 1965 Ken was moved to Monsanto Headquarters in London. He settled in Surrey, but did a great deal of travelling in the UK and overseas. About thirteen years later, for family reasons Ken was unable to move to Brussels with Monsanto and left the company, sadly. He worked for BP for two years, and finally retired, aged 60.

I believe Ken did enjoy his years at Monsanto, and he had many friends. I understand that he had a reputation for training and encouraging those who worked under him.

Travels - Over the years Ken did a great deal of travelling, to the USA - St Louis and Houston Texas, also to Germany, and Brussels, and even to Teheran.
Christine Bryant

Christine adds: Ken was a member of the Royal Institute of Chemistry for 70 years. He was Treasurer when the RICS amalgamated with The Chemical Society, and later worked with their Benevolent Fund.

If you can add other memories or photos of Ken please contact the editor.
This page was drafted on 5th & 14th Sep 2016 with the help of Christine Bryant. All photos via Christine Bryant.