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News > OBs Remembered > RIP - Mike H Gittins (DB, 56-60)

RIP - Mike H Gittins (DB, 56-60)

Of all possessions a friend is the most precious. By chance we met, by choice we became friends.
Mike H Gittins (DB, 56-60)
Mike H Gittins (DB, 56-60)
Michael Hargest Gittins: Day Boy, 1956 - 1960
Born 10th March 1944 - Died 6th January 2024

Michael Hargest Gittins, Mike as he was affectionately called, was the eldest son of Marjorie and Ronald Gittins. He had two younger brothers Peter and David. More about them later. Mikes mum lived in the Blue Boar and his Dad happened to call in for a drink when passing through Brecon. He spotted Marj and said to his friend that he was going to marry her and he did. 

Mike was born in 1944 in Abadan, formerly Persia now Iran. A Welsh friend once asked him which part of the Rhondda valley Abadan was! His father was an analytical chemist with B P and the family spent many happy years there. Mike often reminisced about his Russian nanny, the driver Hassan and kitchen boy Mestri. When Mike was 8, the family were on holiday in Switzerland and whilst there his father received a telegram telling them to return to the UK. A coup had taken place in Iran and it was unsafe for them to return. The family returned to the Blue Boar. They spent a couple of years in the Tower Hotel, Talgarth and then the Angel, Brecon, where the boys were known as the 3 Angels. A mischievous trio they were anything but! One highlight was when they filled the bath with a packet of Lux soap flakes. The bubbles filled the bathroom, landing, down the stairs and the lobby which the Angel and their flat shared. Another was when Mike nailed Peter to the garden shed and set fire to it. Boys! In 1952 Mike’s father bought the Camden Arms, as a birthday present for Marjorie, where they lived for many years.

Mike was very proud of the fact he went to all three secondary schools in Brecon, the Secondary Modern, Christ College and Brecon Boys Grammar. When he left Christ College, his last report said “this boy leaves neither under a cloud or in a blaze of glory “. Little did he realize that in later life he would serve on their Governing Body for 20 years, a role he really enjoyed. Mike also served as chairman of Governors in both Mount Street Infants and Juniors.  The report seems a little harsh as at A level he studied physics, pure and applied maths.

Mike firstly worked at Bulwark Radio and then in 1963 he joined the GPO as a telecommunications engineer, a job he loved. His first post was in Merthyr Tydfil and as he did not have a car, he caught the bus each day.

He loved setting up the local exchanges and had many happy years with Mike Mead, Barry James and his other contemporaries.

Mike had a good social life based around the RAFA club with his friends Dave Smith, Barry Howells, Glyn Jones the milk and Peter Richards aka shifter. He was captain of their darts team and played in a band called The Amazons with Peter Laughan and Russ Rees.

In 1976 he married Jane, who was almost the girl next door, well 5 doors down! The acorn never falls far from the tree. In 1982 they had a beautiful daughter Anna. In 1984 she was followed by Nathan.  As the years have passed Nathan looks more and more like Mike. So Mike we will never forget you. The family expanded with two grandchildren, Evan and Jac, who Mike loved dearly. It looks as if Jac is following Mike with his interest in anything electrical.

In 1992 Mike took early retirement from BT, along with 25,000 other employees. That makes a grand total of 29 years with them. Well done Mike on spending more years in retirement than working.  Thus started his life in the voluntary sector. He followed Nathan’s interests and became involved with Scouts, serving as treasurer for many years and also fixture secretary for the Mini Rugby. In the early 1990’s Mike was co-opted on to Brecon Town Council where he served for many years. He became Mayor of Brecon in 2000 and 2004, a role he held with great pride and dignity. Many have said he was the people’s mayor. In 2010 he was made an Honorary Bailiff of the Town, a fitting recognition of his service to Brecon.

Mike loved to help, especially the people of Brecon. Whether it was giving out financial advice to start your stocks and shares portfolio, how to navigate the political world or just a general chat the door was always open at No 15, along with a coffee or more often than not a glass of wine.

He was a proud Breconian and anything he could do to help the town he would without hesitation. This has been exemplified in the outpouring of support shown to his family since his passing.

Mike was a fixer. In his spare time, Mike loved nothing more than to fix things, nothing was ever thrown away. His passion for anything electrical would see toasters, kettles, microwaves you name it, dropped off at the house and off he’d go into his shed to sort it. In the colder months and much to Jane’s annoyance the kitchen table would be his workshop, bits strewn everywhere. You always knew to give him a wide berth until he had finished. Even when he was confined to bed in his last few weeks, he managed to fix the vacuum cleaner and he told Jane it would last for a good few years and not to even think of buying a new one! At one time Mike had more tv’s in his house than Currys.

Mike loved his family, Jane his wife of 47 years, he was so proud of Anna and Nathan and he adored his grandchildren Evan and Jac. He will be deeply missed by them.

I am a lucky man. In 1983 Kathryn and I moved into No 17 The Watton. We were blessed with great neighbours, none more so than Mike & Jane. They let us into their home and lives and for that we are eternally grateful. Nothing was too much trouble, nothing fazed them, they were great fun, good company and enjoyed life.

Of all possessions a friend is the most precious.

By chance we met, by choice we became friends.

In some ways Mike was a contradiction.

A quiet man with plenty to say.

Worldly wise without going far from The Watton and Brecon. Having said that he loved the trips to visit Anna and her family in Mumbai and Beirut.

Mike enjoyed cooking, food, wine and Merthyr market. There was nothing Mike enjoyed more than his weekly trip to Merthyr market and a bargain on the internet. There was always a parcel arriving at No 15. Talking of food, in the cookie of life, friends are the chocolate chips.

I remember one of our first meals together. An impromptu supper after an afternoon of gardening. I walked around with my family, a tray of food and a bottle of red. I asked Mike if this Chateau Neuf Du Pape was any good. He put his arm around me, smiled and soon weaned us off sweet, white, German wines.

I loved nothing more than spending an evening with Mike and Jane, sitting around their kitchen table, discussing life. Mike like a wise owl trying his best to get a word in edgeways with Jane.

Surprisingly he took to Nathan’s dog Buddy. Mind you it might be the dog listened to him and unlike Jane did not answer back.

Mike was a contented man, whether it be at home, in work, with friends or in public life. He was comfortable with people from all walks of life. He could hold his own on the corner of the bar in the rugby club or with the great and the good at Brecon Town Council or as a governor at Christ College.

Mike enjoyed his garden. One very funny moment was when I asked Mike to look after my tomatoes. It was the first time I had grown them.  I regularly watered and fed them, checked on them every day until we went on holiday and Mike took over. When we returned home the first thing, I did was to check on them. I was so excited as they were covered in lovely red tomatoes. I called on Kath & the kids to come and look and puffed out my chest at my gardening skills. After a few moments we could hear laughter from the other side of the wall. Up popped Mike who could not stop laughing. He had slipped up town that morning purchased tomatoes and carefully tied them on.

These are a few of my memories and I am privileged to be able to share them with you. As I mentioned at the start Mike played an important role in our lives that we will never forget. God Bless you Mike.


Thanks to David James



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