Gardd Fotaneg Genedlaethol CymruNational Botanic Garden of WalesNational Botanic Garden of Wales
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Tribute to Les Bryan


One of the Garden’s most supportive and longstanding volunteers, Les Bryan, has died.

I really liked Les and I will miss him.

We worked together putting on the summer Tree/Woodcraft Festival for a few years and he brought a wonderfully rich perspective to the fungus and wildflower days that I run. As a master woodturner, or is it wood craftsman I’m not sure, Les would spend these weekends creating wooden mushrooms, furniture, flowers, fairy doors or things I don’t know the name of. He always had the same spot in the Great Glasshouse, the bit on the right as you come through the western entrance, where he was usually accompanied by his wife Julie. Here he got visitors having a go at woodturning, something that looked scary and dangerous to my eyes but in Les’s safe hands, everyone just had a great time – my favourite photo of this is the man dressed as a fairy for a Fungus Day (see above). I remember being in a meeting in London and someone there was enthusiastically recounting how she’d made a wooden mushroom during a visit to the Garden. ‘Good on you Les’ I thought.

Even when Les wasn’t here, he was busy helping us out.

He organised Hobbies Weekends, Craft Fairs, the winter Woodcraft Weekends and probably lots of other things I didn’t know about. He also made us some wonderful things – a sign for our pond dipping, a wooden rugby ball signed by Wales 2013 grand slam winners, numerous wooden commemorative pens and bowls, and turned the wood from one of our felled oak trees into beautiful signs for each of our Waun Las meadows and woods. But Les’s extra special legacy for me was to transform our Fairy Wood into a magical place that now resounds to excited chatter from lots of young children – go and have a look for his fairy doors, spooky eyes and fairy village, supplemented very recently by a post box to allow children to write to the fairies.

Before he fell ill, Les’s next plan was to run a tall stories event here. He could tell a good story could Les, and he caught me out a couple of times with his tales of ghosts and medieval heraldry – he had a cheeky sense of humour. I think we would have had a lot of fun with that.

  • Simon Webb

    Nos da Les.
    Catching up with Les was always a highlight when I brought the Bunkerline Bears gang along to a show.

    He will be missed but at least his memory will live on in the fairy garden and in the many wonderful things he made x


    We will all miss Les and his wonderful collection of spinning wheels. He was a permanent feature at the craft fairs. He will be greatly missed by all of us from the Carmarthen spinners group. Vin Deramo

  • Sarah Enoch

    Les was a very talented and kind man. His extraordinary spinning wheels that were crafted with so much love are a treasure to behold. I will always be grateful to him for launching my involvement with the Garden as a stall holder at the Craft fairs, which has subsequently led to several happy years of running felt workshops. Thanks Les, you changed my life……..

  • Lance Morgan

    Les was very talented guy a true gent and real pleasure to know and a mate , he help me so much over the years and i enjoyed demoing with him at the gardens over the years , he was amazing to work with, big thank you Les you change my life you will be greatly missed by all

  • Lynn Mainwaring

    It is so wondeeful to hear such lovelythings said about my Dad. I know what an amazing person he was ( not bias at all!!!) Julie my mam is overwhelmed with the lovely tribute bruce .My family would like to say Thank you to everyone for all your kind words, cards, visits and phonecalls. It really has meant alot to us that so many of you care. My Dad’s funeral will be held on the 28th of February at 3pm in Llanelli crematorium. Donations in lieu of flowers will go to cancer research UK xxx

  • Eleri Rees

    What lovely words about a truly wonderful man. It is hard to imagine any craft event at the gardens without Les…He shared with me his talents and taught me to turn…Something I will enjoy always. I know my father will miss Les as will everyone and anyone that met him. 💟

  • Martin Pidgen

    Les became a dear friend to us over the years when we attended the Craft Shows. It as been a pleasure and a privilege to have had a kind and humble gentleman in our lives.. God bless you Les now at peace but still in our hearts you will be forever missed.
    Martin & Pat xxx