It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of Briar Wilkinson, sales director of Drywite, who has passed away age 73.
Drywite announced the news on social media this morning with a message on Twitter that read: “We are very sad to announce the passing of Briar Wilkinson over the weekend.
“Briar will be sadly missed as she reached many people with her warm and kind personality, her love of Drywite and our industry.”
Briar joined Drywite in 1960 and became sales director in 1980. She gave so much to the fish and chip industry and will be remembered fondly in many ways, although arguably her biggest contribution was the Drywite Young Fish Frier of the Year competition which she launched with her brother Kelvin Lee in memory of their father Malcolm Lee. Since it began in 1995, the competition has helped launch the career of 22 youngsters who won the accolade as well as many more who benefited from taking part.
Representatives from the industry have been quick to pay their respects to Briar. Andrew Crook, president of the NFFF, said: “This is absolutely devastating news.
“The difference Briar has made to the industry is immeasurable, many would not be where they are today without her desire to develop the skills of the young people in this industry.
“The Drywite Young Fish Frier of the Year competition has not only changed people’s careers for the better but also created friendships that will last a lifetime, I met many of my closest friends through the involvement in the competition. Briar helped to create a culture where everyone supports and encourage each other, even though they were competing against each other, something that has found its way into the wider industry. Many say the fish and chip industry is like one big family, we have sadly lost one important member, but Briar’s influence will continue to make a difference for many years to come.”
Mark Drummond, who for many years worked as a judge alongside Briar on the Drywite Young Fish Frier of the Year Competition, added: “Briar has been a huge supporter of the fish and chip industry for as long as I have been a fish frier. Her support for the NFFF and industry competitions has been unrivalled and the Drywite Young Fish Frier of the Year competition has benefited so many friers. Briar was like a second mum to so many young (and now not so young) friers, she will be hugely missed and never forgotten.”
Craig Buckley, who Briar crowned Young Fish Frier of the Year in 2011, added: “I feel very lucky to have had Briar in my life.
“I personally owe her so much, not just professionally, but as a friend. Myself, my family, the young fish frier community and the wider industry have lost an idol, a mentor, a supporter, a leader but most of all a friend. My heart felt thoughts are with Ken, Kelvin, the Lee/Wilkinson family and the team at Drywite.”