It is with very great sadness that we have to pass on the news that Ray’s brother, Barry Iles, co-director of Ashley Iles Edge Tools, has passed away.
As many of you will be aware, Barry has fought a long battle with cancer, which took his sight in the last few years. Although he took everything life threw at him in his stride, in recent weeks, Barry suffered further setbacks, and ended up in hospital, having contracted sepsis. Although he shook off the sepsis, he never recovered his strength and he slipped away peacefully on Saturday night.
Barry was the youngest of the three Iles brothers. He had worked for the company from leaving school in 1977, taking over as co-director, with his brother Tony, when their father Ashley Iles retired. During his early working years, at his father’s insistence, Barry learnt to do every job in the factory, as well as helping to install the machinery when they moved to larger premises. The skills he learnt during this time proved invaluable when it came to himself and Tony taking over the reins.
Up until losing his sight, Barry managed the carving tools side of the business, as well as quality control and design. He was very hands on, doing much of the skilled manufacturing work himself and could often be found in the factory in the evenings and at weekends, long after everyone had gone home. Even after losing his sight, he could still be found in the office at the factory every day.
Barry was a bright man, with an enquiring mind, great logic and a passion for the tools that he produced. Although naturally quite a shy and quiet man, Barry enjoyed travelling and meeting customers. Recognising the intrinsic importance of sharp tools, he invented a carving tool sharpening system and spent many hours with customers, sharing his knowledge and teaching them how to sharpen their tools, both at trade shows and in the factory.
In his personal life, Barry had a playful nature and a natural affinity with children and animals, remaining young at heart until the end, despite his illness. As an uncle and later a great uncle, he was always ready and willing to accompany young visitors cross legged on the floor and join in with the fun! As well as being a beloved brother and uncle, he was also a loyal friend and devoted son, going above and beyond in caring for his mother, Betty, in her later years, after his father Ashley passed away.
He is very much missed.