Steve Brundle was a civil engineer and a born leader. He worked for engineering consultancy, Scott Wilson, for most of his life, became their youngest ever director, set up a Middle East office for the firm, led many infrastructure projects around the globe, and won the Institution of Civil Engineers’ coveted Project Manager of the Year award. He brought out the very best in everyone who was a member of his various teams across the years and always took the time to mentor and support young people, helping them advance their careers in the profession.
In 2011, Steve and I, with a small team, set up an independent consultancy business, Infrata, which went from strength to strength. Steve was a favourite with clients, which was illustrated well by his last role (as the Department for Transport’s Project Representative on the High Speed 2 Rail project) where his honesty and considered advice was considered invaluable.
As his younger brother, Paul, said, Steve was good at everything he did. He had an adventurous spirit. His main hobby was ballooning (he once crossed the English Channel in a hot air balloon); since childhood he loved the Lake District and enjoyed climbing mountains with his family as well as lone walks and cycling to keep fit. He and I were together for too short a time, but we packed in a huge amount of happy memories; Venice gondola, deserted island, mountain railways, Italian lakes, Greek sunsets… and many others, as well as DIY in our lovely cottage. Working together and living together, we were never apart.
He had three children from his first marriage, and he was pleased to see his sons, Alex and Jack, grow to manhood and start their careers. He was also extremely proud to walk his beautiful daughter, Sarah, down the aisle on her marriage to Sean – he knew Sean would look after her. He was ill then, but we didn’t know and Steve and I happily “danced the night away” that evening.
Our joyful and busy life was broken by the news that the small mole on Steve’s side that his GP had said was fine (it was symmetrical and evenly brown) and which had been removed some years before, was a virulent melanoma and had spread throughout his body. On our second visit to the Royal Surrey, we were seen by a sympathetic but melancholy doctor who gave us the devastating news that there was no hope and nothing could be done.
But then we met Dr Ajaz. “He’s mine” he said, brushing away the formalities of referrals, and whisking us into his consulting room to hear a flurry of plans, involving various medication, “zapping” tumours, immunotherapy, radiotherapy… there was always a next course of action and, from despair, we now had hope. Dr Ajaz quickly understood the nature of his patient, and Steve would be project managing his own recovery. He was told to remove any stress from his life, and to find the offending mole (removed in Basingstoke) so that it could be analysed… Over the months, we very much looked forward to our meetings with Dr Ajaz, which always gave us renewed hope. There were many treatments, some successful, some not. Steve never complained and we found ways to cope with the various disabilities that were thrown at us. He said “one day, we will beat this cancer, it’s just a matter of time”.
In hospital on Valentine’s day 2016, Steve sipped the pink smoothie I had made, and we told of our love for each other as he fell asleep. I stayed by his side, as imperceptibly he slipped into a coma and died on 16th February.
I am convinced, though, that Dr Ajaz gave Steve and I six months more than we would have had. Six months where, although his condition deteriorated, we were able to enjoy our life together, and I am so grateful for this. In particular, we were able to celebrate Steve’s 60th birthday, 20th December 2015, in the best hotel in Nice, in the sunshine, overlooking the sparkling blue Mediterranean Sea.
Steve’s story is our love story; I am pleased to share it because, although he was a modest and private man, I know that he would be proud of what we are trying to achieve.