Gerry (right) pictured at this year’s Cornwall CAMRA AGM cutting the branch’s 40th anniversary cake, with fellow founding members Richard Cunningham (centre) and Brian Phillips

 

It’s ironic that so many beer drinkers in Cornwall know Gerry Bazin’s name as he certainly gave the impression he could never remember ours.

“I know it: Duncan, Derek, David,” he would say, shaking my hand vigorously as we met at a beer festival or CAMRA do. The names were so close you could be forgiven for thinking he was doing it for deliberate comic effect, before eventually settling on “Dear Boy”.

Gerry, who passed away this week, was CAMRA brewery liaison officer for St Austell Brewery. The ideal candidate, really, as he lived within the shadow of the brewery tower, a stop-off halfway to the railway station where many of us have been invited in after an evening on the beer, only to find a bottle of Gerry’s single malt being uncorked.

Gerry was a founder member of Cornwall CAMRA in 1977, and a former chairman. He and two other founder members — Richard Cunningham and Brian Phillips — were at the 40th anniversary branch AGM this year, where they cut a celebratory cake.

Over a pint in Beerwolf, in Falmouth, yesterday, Richard recalled how Gerry, who had worked for English China Clay — a prominent employer in the St Austell area — had gone on a membership drive at work and persuaded several colleagues to join CAMRA. He said that when he and his wife, Ann, lived in Truro, and the main Cornwall CAMRA festival was staged there, Gerry, who had a dislike of cats, would come to stay and forget that they were cat owners. Slumping in a chair after a hard days festival work, Gerry would suddenly find a feline friend on his lap, much to his surprise!

As BLO for St Austell, Gerry was unstinting in his support of the brewery and was a regular at its annual Celtic Beer Festival, in the autumn. Cornwall CAMRA members were kept well informed of the brewery’s news at branch meetings, recounted in Gerry’s distinctive hearty voice. Gregarious and entertaining, I don’t recall him ever saying a bad word about anybody. He even had a special edition beer brewed in his honour called, of course, Dear Boy.

James Staughton, chief executive of St Austell Brewery, spoke on behalf of the entire staff there today. He said: “As one of the founding members of CAMRA Kernow way back in 1977, few people have done more than Gerry to champion beer and pubs in Cornwall.

“He was a great friend to St Austell Brewery and many of us here were privileged to be numbered amongst his friends. We will miss his boundless enthusiasm and commitment to the cause of promoting real ale, and we will all be raising a glass in Tribute to him at Beer O’Clock this Friday afternoon at the brewery.”