Family grieves 'gentle giant'

THE "gentle giant" of Uki Public School will forever be remembered by his family as a big man with a big heart.

Garry Lyle Brabham, the principal of the Uki school, passed away aged 52 on January 6 in Christchurch, New Zealand, after developing a blood clot caused by deep vein thrombosis.

Pondering over photos of her late husband yesterday, Debbie Brabham spoke of the gap her husband will leave in her life and that of their three children, Nick, Sam and Claire.

"He was a big man with an even bigger heart," Mr Brabham's widow, Debbie Brabham said.

Mr Brabham met his future wife while teaching at his first school in Sydney.

Mrs Brabham, a teacher at Bogangar Public School, said her late husband loved the natural beauty of the Tweed region.

"He loved the beauty of the area. He took the long way to school every day just so he could take it all in and see the water," she said.

The principal of eight years did what ever it took to entertain the children at the school. His choice in loud, colourful shirts and an extensive tie collection was legendary among his pupils.

"He especially loved his ties with cartoon characters and the colourful ones," Mrs Brabham said. "He had an extensive Christmas tie collection. He had enough to wear a new one from the start of December to the end. He even went to school in his%pyjamas."

Back at the Brabham home at Cabarita Beach, Mr Brabham will be remembered as a keen gardener, experienced fisherman and avid cricket follower.

"It was a running joke in the house if you ever wanted him to do something you would tell him -- after the next over," Mr Brabham's son, Sam, said.

"He loved to play cricket,umpire it and watch it."

Mrs Brabham said her husband was a fairly quiet man.

"He was very select in who he got close to. He was very friendly but quiet," she said.

She said he enjoyed every day he spent at the school.

"He had a mission at every school he went to. At Uki, he helped them build their special-purpose music and art room%early last year.

"If he ever had to take over a class for a teacher he would love to teach the kids bush dancing."

Word of Mr Brabham's passing reached the Uki school community last week.

Many of the school's students have already begun placing remembrance notes on the school gate.

"Garry always liked to know the kids' names," Mrs Brabham said. "He went into teaching because he loved kids and never stopped loving them."

Going over his father's photos, Sam said he realises now how much he and his dad were alike.

"He loved getting involved and he was very practical and very organised," Sam said. "His death just hasn't really sunk in yet. I don't feel like I have had any closure yet."

A service for Mr Brabham will be held in All Saints Anglican Church, Murwillumbah tomorrow, commencing at 1.30pm. Those attending are being encouraged to wear a loud shirt or colourful tie in appreciation of Mr Brabham's favourite fashion statement.

A school-based celebration will be held at Uki Public School on Sunday, February 1, from 10am with a cricket-themed picnic and sausage sizzle.

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