It is with great sadness and tremendous heartache that the family of Keith Bracewell, of Campbell River, B.C., announce his passing on August 11, 2016 at the Campbell River Hospital after a lengthy and very difficult journey with Parkinson’s Disease.
Keith was born in Burnley, Lancashire, England on March 6, 1937 to the late Leah and Sidney Bracewell. He was the oldest of three children. He attended Rosegrove Secondary School for a short time.
On March 31, 1956 he married the love of his life, Kathleen Mary. They recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.
At the age of 15, Keith went down underground as a coal miner. A career that would span 52 years.
Over a period of twenty years Keith worked around the pits of North East Lancashire and North Wales; Bank Hall, Hapton Valley, Thorny Bank, Huncoat, Scaitcliffe, Salterford Drifts, Fence Drifts, Reedley, Calder, Hill Top, to name a few. Productivity and working conditions of the mines were not good and between 1967 and 1972 the UK was in the economic dumps and political unrest created even more problems for the mining industry. So, in 1971 Keith took his family and moved to Fernie, British Columbia, Canada where eventually he would become a leader in the pits of Balmer North, Sparwood, B.C. Mining was full steam ahead in the Elk Valley in the early 1970’s and Keith steadily worked his way up the ranks, gaining the trust and confidence of both the men and the management.
In December of 1986, it was time for a change and Keith took a position at the Westmin-Boliden Myra Falls Mine in Campbell River, B.C. where he eventually became a safety supervisor and an underground maintenance supervisor. However, the plight of the mining industry caused lay-offs and so around March of 1992, Keith took a new position at Hillsborough Resources Quinsam Coal Mine as a miner. Over time he became a fireboss, safety director and in 1995 a mine rescue instructor.
As a mine rescue instructor and team captain of the Quinsam Coal Mine Rescue team, the team had great success, and for two years in a row, won the John T. Ryan national safety award. It was around this time that the Ministry of Energy and Mines, announced the “Keith Bracewell Memorial Award” which is now given at the mine rescue competition annually for the rescue team that shows the best performance in the underground mine simulation for best obstacle and recovery competition.
In Keith’s spare time he was a member of the Fernie Lions Club, Past President of Fernie Royal Canadian Legion, Branch #36 and a past member of the Campbell River Royal Canadian Legion, Branch #137. He loved to play darts, and, after retirement, spent many a day on the golf course and on the open sea, cruising.
In his early days in England, Keith had been an entertainer, singing at many a venue with his beautiful, deep, baritone voice, and then in later years, sang for enjoyment spontaneously during social events.
Unfortunately, Keith was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease around 2000 and his life was drastically changed. He fought the fight of his life with courage and dignity especially over the last three years.
Keith is survived by his beloved wife, Kathleen, daughters Catherine (Glen) and Katrina (Chris), and grandchildren, Jennifer, Jillian, Kelsey and Rebecca, and sister-in-law, Eileen Riley of Burnley, Lancs.UK.
The family would like to extend deepest gratitude to Dr. Jon Walker, the nurses and hospice at Campbell River Hospital, and good friends, Rita, Paul and Don.
Honoring Keith’s request there will be no funeral service.
Memorial contributions can be made in Keith’s name to:-
Parkinson Society British Columbia, 600- 890 West Pender Street, Vancouver, BC Canada, V6C 1J9 (Tel:604.662.3240)
Till we meet again Keith, fly with the angels…