Vois and Brein Bancroft on the old Sportsman Creek bridge in 2018.

Farewell to the gentleman of Lawrence

OVER cups of tea and freshly made scones, three generations of Brein Bancroft's family take turns sharing their favourite memories of him.

"Remember the time he drove the tractor in a full leg cast?" son Warren Bancroft says.

Everyone starts to giggle.

"He was using a rotary hoe to cultivate some land and while he was in between the tractor and the rotary blades, the shaft that spins the blades suddenly kicked back into gear and took two of his toes off."

Another blade hit Brein in the shin before the machine suddenly kicked back out of gear giving him a chance to free himself. Had it kept going, he would have been killed.

Brein's wife Vois burst into tears at the sight of her husband sitting in a mangled mess.

"He just threw his arms around me and said 'don't cry; it's only two toes!"

"Fortunately, his toes were still in his boot," Warren continues. 

"They were a bit shorter, but Dr Ivan Page managed to stitch them back on, put his leg in a plaster and told him in six months he might be all right. Six days later he was back out on the tractor with the plastered foot.

"You just couldn't stop dad."

Everyone laughs while a few stray tears are quietly wiped away. Each story told has become a security blanket against the grief they're now facing. The grief of losing Brein.

For Warren, it's tagging along to scout excursions when his dad was scout master all those years ago. 

"He used to take the boys to the Sandon River for an overnight camp and even though I wasn't a senior scout yet, I got to go with them," he smiles.

"We'd take a lantern and go around the shallows and spear fish or catch crabs and feast on those. 

"The boys just loved him." 


More: Brein and Vois Bancroft reminisce about the old Sportsmans Creek bridge


"Brein was always doing something for the community," Vois adds.

"He was treasurer for a while at the Lawrence Museum and secretary for the Lawrence Hall committee. If there was a function happening in Lawrence, he'd be there to help out. But he didn't like the limelight. He did the work and perhaps a thank you was enough for him, but he didn't want any real recognition."

One story the family never grow tired of hearing is the moment Vois and Brein's love for one another ignited over six decades ago.

"We'd been in the same classroom at Grafton High School for three years and almost exactly the same subjects," Vois begins.

"I wasn't interested in boys and he wasn't interested in girls but somewhere along the way a spark was lit."

That spark was a senior girls vs boys high school netball game when Brein made a memorable impression on her.

"We were both jumping for the ball and he kicked me in the shin by accident," she laughs.

"I thought he had chipped the bone, but it didn't matter; he had made his 'mark' on me and that was it.

"Even after 65 years of marriage, that spark between us has and always will stay alight."

  • Family and friends are invited to honour Brein Bancroft in a funeral service to be held at Lawrence Cemetery at 11am on Tuesday, July 14.