MICHAEL Robertson-Young. Norfolk director of Red Cross and soldier

A former director of the British Red Cross in Norfolk, Major Michael Robertson-Young, who has died aged 85, received papal thanks for his book of religious reflections.

Pope Benedict XVI wrote with praise of his book, 'Two Invitations from Christ,' which also aimed to appeal to other faiths. It received complimentary reviews from a number of archbishops and cardinals.

Born in Dulwich, London, his parents had lived in Blythburgh, near Southwold, on the Suffolk coast, where he spent many childhood years. Commissioned in the Grenadier Guards aged 18 in 1944, he became the youngest captain in the British Army and was also an instructor at Sandhurst.

He served in Palestine in the strife-ridden years between 1945 and 1948, when he left the army to study to become a priest. A devout Roman Catholic, in 1948 he led a Rosary prayer group at Hyde Park Corner with permission of Cardinal Griffin to pray for a just peace and the Conversion of Russia.

In 1949 and for the same reason, he took part in a Cross carrying pilgrimage from London to the Marian Shrine at Walsingham with 14 groups from various parts of the country.

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When he was discouraged from seeking Holy Orders, he applied to return to the Army in 1952 and, remarkably, his application was accepted. Commissioned again as a lieutenant in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, he was seriously injured and spent six months in hospital recovering from his injuries. Although he recovered, he lost further opportunity for rapid promotion and retired as a major after 13 years' service in 1973, which had included tours in Cyprus and the Far East.

Against tough competition at the age of 47, Maj Robertson-Young, then living in Beccles, became director of the British Red Cross for Norfolk. He was then responsible for a volunteer force of 4,000 workers and implemented a national reorganisation scheme to increase effectiveness on the ground. He also organised a new directory for the Norfolk Red Cross and with support of the patron, the then Lady Walpole, transformed the organisation.

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Later, he became production manager of the long-established printers, Clowes, in Beccles. He set up a security firm, SAS, and was also associated as a director of several other local companies.

He had married Robyn in 1953, who died in 1990. They had three sons, Simon, Adam and Angus and he leaves grandchildren and great grandchildren.

As a mark of respect to the retired soldier, two Grenadier Guardsmen from his former regiment, will attend his funeral service at St Benet's Minister, Beccles, on Friday, at 11am.

Michael Pollitt

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