A LIFELONG employee of Barnsley’s longest-running building firm has died from Covid-19.

Bryan Panks died at Barnsley Hospital on January 4 at 91 years old - he was a colourful man, whose varied life allowed him to explore countless activities.

Yet, for all of his working life he was loyal to CD Potter and Sons Building Ltd, who he joined as an apprentice bricklayer when he was only 16 and worked through the ranks to eventually run the company by the time he retired.

“He didn’t retire until his late 70s,” daughter Sarah told the Chronicle.

“Under his direction the firm was responsible for erecting the Hillsborough memorial in 1999.

“Early on though, he was posted to Egypt during his National Service, to support with the Suez Canal Crisis of the 1950s.

“He returned from National Service in 1954 and once again joined CD Potter and Sons, working his way up from ‘brick lad’ to general foreman by the 1960s.”

Work wasn’t the only thing that filled Bryan’s time though, as he also was quite the adept boxer in his youth.

As a pupil at Holgate Grammar School he would compete in school boxing competitions, and at the age of 14 became one of their few finalists.

But music was his true passion, and stuck with him ever since he received a surprise gift as a child.

“When he was about eight years old his father gave him a ukulele,” Sarah added.

“He had a passion for guitars and music since.

“At 16 he started a band called The Blue Lyrics with Stan Richards from Emmerdale.

“Don Booker, the former editor of the Chronicle, also played trumpet for them.”

This was the first of many bands that Bryan would eventually play with, including Rock Chords who appeared on the old TV programme Bid For Fame in 1958.

This wouldn’t be Bryan’s only television appearance, as in 1991 he also joined Stan for This Is Your Life.

Bryan remained healthy until the last few years, and after he suffered from a stroke he struggled with aphasia, a communication issue that made him struggle to find the right words.

Nevertheless, he still lived with his wife of 50 years, Jean, and even as late as 2021 he would find his way into the greenhouse to tend to his much-loved tomato plants.

Sarah added: “He was a man to aspire to, a man who made it in life, a man who ‘took no prisoners’ and who was relenting in the pursuit of his dreams and goals.

“He strived to be the best, as anything less just was not good enough.

“I have no doubt that he lived without regrets, and he certainly lived life his way.”