An appreciation

1938 - 2011

Robin started ringing at the age of 14 at St Andrew’s Church, Headington, Oxford. Robin’s first peal inside was in 1955, and in 1956 he rang a peal in a band of average age 16. He rang while at University in London, and became a College Youth. He also rang in many places in England including Cambridge, Hitchin, Sheffield, Chelmsford and Preston. From the St Paul, Sketty, Tower visitor’s book, Robin first rang at St Paul, Sketty in February 1978, presumed to be around the time when he came for interview for the post of Vice-Principal at Neath Technical College.

I first met Robin in the early 1970s in Lancashire, when I was a struggling learner; he was very supportive and encouraging of young ringers. We were both surprised to meet up again in west Wales in 1984. Robin was always an unflappable ringer and a good friend. We were always fascinated to witness on Sunday mornings when he and Hazel Way (sadly also deceased), would pick up their conversation exactly where they had left off from the previous Sunday morning. Sketty tower records show that in his time here he rang about 53 quarters, conducting many of them and his chosen compositions were always a little different and interesting to follow. He was particularly interested in the mathematical side of compositions. He and I would have discussions on creating compositions which had a particular characteristic. He would have been interested in the simple, yet cyclic nature of the part ends in the quarter peal we rang as a tribute to him at Sketty.

Robin originally trained as a nuclear physicist and undertook research in neutron particle physics and reactor physics at Harwell in Oxford. He lectured in a number of higher education institutions before joining Neath Technical College, as it was then known, in 1978 as Vice-Principal. In 1982 he was appointed to set up the first tertiary college in West Glamorgan, something that other Education Authorities in Wales are only now considering 28 years later. He also led the college into incorporation in 1993 when it was separated from the local authority by becoming an incorporated institution.

Robin retired in 1998 after being instrumental in guiding and overseeing the merger of the then Neath and Afan colleges to form the current Neath Port Talbot College. Robin’s interest were varied, as well as bellringing, he was a keen photographer, radio-ham, caravaner and an active member of the Lions.

Robin met his wife Pam 48 years ago. He often told the story of when he first met Pam. He had a friend who said that he knew two nurses and they could get a free coffee, Robin’s view was that it turned out to be very good coffee, but a bit expensive.

Robin died quietly on Friday, 4th March 2011 at his home in Bishopston, after an illness borne with great courage and dignity. Robin was the beloved husband of Pam, dearly loved father of Duncan and Anna, dear brother of David and sister-in-law Sheila, father-in-law of Nic, much loved Grandpa of Thomas, Megan and Ben. He is much missed by all who knew him and valued his friendship. His funeral on Monday 21st March, at Swansea Crematorium, was led by Canon Andrew Knight, Vicar of Sketty. Any donations in lieu of flowers for Ty Olwen may be sent to c/o St James Funeral Home, 31 St James Gardens, Uplands, Swansea, SA1 6DT. Tel 01792 643840.

NIGEL DOYLE

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Central Council of Church Bell Ringers