Brayshaw buoyancy keeps famed family close

Nearly eight years after his daughter was killed in a freak accident in 2006, WA cricket legend Ian Brayshaw has revealed how a bond tightened by tragedy within his famous family continues to help him cope with their loss.

Sally, once a nanny to princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, was just 36 when she was crushed by toppling bricks as she closed a garage door at her Melbourne home.

Brayshaw's wife Joan was on her way outside with a drink for their only daughter when she was confronted with the unthinkable tragedy.

It was just hours after they had shared a mother-daughter breakfast in bed while talking on speaker phone to Brayshaw, who was back at his Albany home.

Breaking a long silence on the incident, Brayshaw looked from his home's balcony at picturesque Goode Beach and pointed to the neighbour's house where he had just taken his first sip of a red wine when he received the phone call.

It was a moment that changed his life for ever. "One thing I work on now is never take anything for granted," he said.

"I spoke at length with Sal that morning . . . I took for granted I would be talking to her again tomorrow and I'd see her next month and whenever.

"It was a very grounding experience and we just sort of closed ranks as a family.

"Grieving is a very personal thing and there are varying stages of it.

"It never gets better, but it does get easier.

"We've all dealt with it individually, with a good support mechanism.

"I think Joan thinks about Sal every day, but I don't.

"Then, halfway down the passage way to my office is a table with a lot of photos of her on it and memorabilia of hers. So I see her every day and the hairbrush that I use, it was her hairbrush.

"I know that some of her hair is still in it, but I'm happy to use it because I feel contact with her."

The Brayshaws have three sons, Mark, James and Robert.

Brayshaw believes James, a television host and chairman of the North Melbourne Football Club, suffered the most out of the tragedy because of the attention on him because of his fame.

Brayshaw, 72, who also told _The Weekend West _about a heart attack that nearly killed him last year, said his family were in "constant contact" and marked Sally's birthday and the day she died each year.

But the lingering pain over his loss means he is still yet to discuss the incident in detail with his wife.

"I can't believe how she could have felt when she raced outside and there it all was - she was literally hit by a tonne of bricks," he said. "It was something you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy and while I know it's been really hard on the boys, being a parent and to bury a child, you just don't expect it.

"Since then it's just been day by day, really, and I just can't say enough about Joan because she actually saw what the bricks did to her.

"I still can't ask Joan about it or get her to tell me what it looked like.

"I just shudder at the thought of it and the thought of what is in her head about what happened to our daughter.

"Joan hasn't forced it on me, she's borne that on her own, which I deeply admire and love her for."


The West Australian

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