He was the boy from Gallatown who left school at 14 with very little education but became one of Kirkcaldy’s most successful and respected businessmen.
Bert Caira, who passed away on September 9 at the age of 82 after a battle with cancer, was well known in the town for the number of different businesses he owned in his long career, as well as being the man who helped bring The Beatles to town, but chose to shun the limelight himself.
Born on October 25 1931 to parents David and Assunta, Bert’s life as a future business man started when he was just eight years old, selling ice cream from his bike at places around town such as Pathhead Sands.
After moving up to Viewforth High School from Gallatown Primary, Bert left at just 14 years old and continued selling ice cream from a horse and cart before finally getting his own ice cream van which he described as “luxury!”.
Bert continued to sell ice cream for a number of years before going into the slot machine business with his brother Mario and cousin Peter.
The three soon expanded into a number of different areas including the fish and chip trade before beginning to convert cinemas into bingo halls.
Bert’s wife May who he married in 1961 said the three were doing very well but the opening of Kirkcaldy’s Raith Ballroom proved a bit of a let down.
“Only six couples turned up and even then there was a fight!
“They had spent a fortune on it and Bert looked at Mario and Peter’s faces and burst into fits of laughter. Of course it took off after that.”
One of Bert’s biggest coups was booking The Beatles to play at the Carlton Cinema in 1963. “It was mobbed!” said May. “A huge triumph.”
A trip to Rome on holiday was the inspiration for another of Bert’s huge successes.
May said: “We saw a pub there called ‘Jackie O’. Bert had just bought the Garrison and thought that would be a great name to change it to.”
The hugely successful partnership split amicably in 1989 but Bert continued to work seven days a week right up until he was too ill to continue.
May said: “He had a strong work ethic and was hard but fair in business but in his spare time he loved Raith Rovers, golf and absolutely adored his grandchildren.”
Bert is survived by his wife May, children David, Bertie, Nicola and Mario and his 12 grandchildren.