GRIEF-STRICKEN family members of Pompey Pirate Craig Bryden have told how his inspirational battle against cancer touched hearts across the globe.
The dad-of-two, from Copnor, was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer in 2016 and valiantly battled on, always with a smile on his face.
But on Wednesday he died, leaving family members and friends heartbroken. He had inspired hundreds of people over the years.
Speaking to The News, Craig’s dad Bill Bryden said his son had been an inspiration to others and that he was heartbroken by his death.
The 84-year-old, who lives in Darvel, south west Scotland where Craig grew up, said: ‘I am very very proud of him. He has been a great inspiration to many not only locally but throughout the world.’
Craig became an internet sensation after he wore a pirate outfit to his first chemotherapy session at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham.
His upbeat attitude captured the hearts of Portsmouth – and Pompey. The former Royal Navy sailor and Falklands veteran was soon invited to attend a Pompey home game.
Robert Mair, Craig’s cousin, took to Facebook to pay tribute to his beloved relative.
Describing him as a ‘mad Scotsman, buccaneer, fighter, warrior, adventurer, hero and all round legend’, he said: ‘I was always incredibly proud of him, one of my big inspirations. It was an honour to have him as my cousin. He brightened the lives of us all with his charm and humour.’
Craig served in the Royal Navy for more than 20 years.
During his time in the Senior Service, he survived the sinking of HMS Sheffield during the Falklands War in 1982.
He was also on board HMS Gloucester in the first Gulf War when the ship – known as the Fighting G – scored the first missile to missile kill while defending American warship the USS Missouri.
Robert, 45, said: ‘He had a habit of getting involved in international incidents.
'He never accepted the title “hero” although he was all that to me.'
Speaking to The News from his home in Norway, Robert added: ‘Craig was an inspiration to me.
‘When he was diagnosed, the doctors gave him two months to live. He managed to survive for two-and-a-half years.
‘He just had this indomitable spirit and amazing attitude. Nothing could ever get him down.