The funeral was held for a former Bishop’s Stortford man who made a career out of his childhood thanks to his exceptional talent as an artist.
Brian “Goughie” Gough, endowed with a wonderful imagination and a brilliant sense of humor, died on March 11, three days after his 80th birthday.
He had lived in Stortford, Stansted and Birchanger, but at the end of his life he was in a care home in Great Dunmow. His funeral was held at Cam Valley Crematorium in Great Chesterford on April 1.
He is survived by his partner Annie, his daughters Joanne and Sophie, and his grandchildren Holly, Alfie and Harry.
As well as being a gifted artist and illustrator who worked professionally as a graphic designer, Brian loved music, filled his homes with instruments and had a beautiful singing voice – and was variously known as “Michelangelo of Stansted’ and ‘Frank Sinatra of Worthing’. A maverick maverick, he certainly did it his way.
Brian Douglas Gough was born on March 8, 1942 to his grandparents in Whittington, Shropshire. He was four years old when he first met his father Douglas, who had gone on duty in World War II. He had a younger brother, Melvin, five years his junior.
His father being away and his grandfather working, his neighbors Harold and May, who had no children, took him under their wing. Harold was the local poacher and took Brian for walks in the countryside with his dogs. The youngster retained a love of the countryside and Shropshire in particular.
Brian was a skinny boy. He didn’t like football, rugby or cricket, but he was a good swimmer. When he was around 15, he took a Saturday job in a bread delivery van and used his paycheck to buy the Charles Atlas bodybuilding course. After 12 months, the skinny child had become a fine example of fitness and muscle. He enjoyed hiking and mountaineering, especially in North Wales.
At 13, his teachers at Oswestry School realized he had an exceptional talent for painting and drawing, and he transferred to Shrewsbury School of Art. At 20, with a National Diploma in Design to his credit, he left Shropshire to make his fortune in London.
His first job was as a graphic designer at the Boy Scout Association. He then moved to a department store, Berman’s, where he met his future wife Carol Ingle, also a graphic designer.
The couple moved to Worthing, West Sussex, where they rented a flat above a pub and continued to work in graphic design.
Brian had a great voice and was a regular on the show at the end of the dock. He became known as “Frank Sinatra of Worthing”.
After their marriage in 1968, Carol and Brian moved to Bishop’s Stortford, where they raised Joanne, born in 1970, and Sophie (1973). Brian has worked in several major advertising agencies in London.
Unlike his city life, on weekends he loved nothing more than going out in the country with the girls. They remember going on adventures all day with a water bottle and sandwiches. Coming home tired and weary, often with a backpack full of rocks, pine cones or other found treasures, Sophie in particular shared her father’s love of fossil hunting.
Brian liked to collect unusual objects and often took the girls through the fields with a metal detector. Long days out always ended with a refreshing pint or three in the old Fox pub in Rye Street with a well-deserved coke and crisps for the girls.
He loved animals and once came home with two “female” rabbits – which multiplied rapidly! At one time, the family had 18 rabbits and 23 guinea pigs. Brian also wanted to get a goat as a replacement for the lawn mower, but Carol drew a line on that.
The artist loved music and always sang with his favorite crooners. The house was filled with guitars, drums, maracas, cymbals and recorders – even a double bass! Brian liked to play the piano for the girls. Eventually it gave way to a huge pianola, eventually reduced to a church organ. The family never knew what he would come back with next.
In 1980, Brian boldly gave up his job as creative director of the London agency Rileys to freelance from home. Among his many clients were Alan Goldsmith, owner of Mountfitchet Castle, for whom he illustrated a children’s book, The spoonfuls.
However, Brian’s most cherished project was his own children’s book which he wrote and illustrated, The Little Men of Hoggett’s Wood. It was set in the woods of Dane O’Coys Road where he, Joanne and Sophie had spent many happy times, and the characters were based on people he knew, ranging from his beloved grandmother to colorful characters with whom he worked.
He frescoed the ceiling of the Old Bell pub in Stansted, depicting the big tree that featured in his book, and literally worked his ass off, spending weeks lying on his back on scaffolding planks, which earned him the nickname “Michelangelo of Stansted”. ‘. Later he joined the Simpsons and MBS advertising agencies in Bishop’s Stortford.
In 1983 Brian and Carol divorced. He moved to Stansted, where he met and moved in with Annie and her children, Nicola and David.
Brian’s next venture, along with a colleague from MBS, was to set up his own graphic design business, Talks, at The Maltings in Station Road, Sawbridgeworth. Later it became That Studio.
While running Talks, he achieved his life’s ambition by opening his own gallery at The Maltings which housed 80 examples of his work spanning over 25 years, including oil and watercolor paintings, pencil drawings and cartoons.
When the business closed in 1990, Brian rented a small studio in Stansted. He continued to work for many varied clients and to develop his own ideas, including children’s television shows and greeting cards.
Brian and Annie moved to Birchanger, where they ran a B&B. They also took up a pub in Sudbury for a year before returning to the village of Uttlesford.
Brian launched his own successful art classes. Over the years he was in great demand for his portraits and caricatures and had exhibitions in Stansted and the surrounding villages.
Joanne and Sophie said: “You’d be hard pressed to find a pub that doesn’t have an original Brian Gough painting, a Goughie cartoon or a mural adorning its walls.
“He loved the garden, raised fish and chickens, and enjoyed walks with his Jack Russells, first Kes and later Flossie.
“Brian was calm and soft-spoken, thoughtful and cultured, with a wonderful imagination and brilliant sense of humour. He loved and was proud of his family and his Shropshire heritage.
“Over the years he had good friends who he enjoyed company with over a few drinks, but he was just as happy in his own company.
“He had a lot of fun, enjoyed his life, never complied and did it his own way.”