OBITUARY: The humble octogenarian amazed by the choice on offer nowadays at Sainsbury’s
PUBLISHED: 19:10 22 August 2019
Long-serving Norfolk town clerk was also a church stalwart – and took in chocolates for folk to enjoy on Christmas morning. He’s died at 82
For any of us who are slaves to fashion, or generally addicted to the thrill of acquiring something new, a nice story about Robin Roberson is food for thought. He adored his not-so-frequent trips to Sainsbury's - not because shopping per se was a buzz, but because he was genuinely amazed and dazzled by the choice on offer these days.
His reaction "reflects Robin's gratitude and may be in contrast to his early life as a boy growing up in a small village where resources were much less plentiful than today", suggests Methodist minister the Rev Andrew King.
Robin, it seems, knew the value, satisfaction and benefits of giving: giving his time, attention, expertise and - sometimes - things. On Christmas mornings, for instance, he brought chocolates to hand to worshippers at his village Methodist chapel (a place he often called "the tabernacle"). On Mothering Sundays, he provided plants or chocolates for the ladies.
He might have been a devoted Methodist, but Robin was also decidedly ecumenical. He played the organ at Tittleshall Methodist Church, and took many of the services there. He also played (over more than 30 years) at St Mary's in the village - and often took services there, too.
Sometimes, Robin would leave the Methodist chapel just after the benediction to go "up the road" to lead worship at Church of England St Mary's.
When Courtenay House care home was open, Robin often led the worship there. He didn't rush away afterwards - always finding time to chat to people.
A fellow villager says that, after retirement from his regular job, the redoubtable Robin "put all his energy into Tittleshall life, and was a king-pin in local musical appreciation and in the study of village history, as well as in helping those in the (now defunct) care home.
"His rich legacy will be fondly remembered by all those whose lives he touched."
Robin Roberson was born on December 29, 1936, in the house at Tittleshall where he'd spend almost all his life - a handsome flint and brick building in the High Street.
His father Tom was a quiet and hardworking man, often seen toiling on his allotment; mother Violet a jovial soul.
Violet read a lot and inspired Robin to be creative. As they sat in front of the fire, she'd encourage her son to gaze at the flames and ask him what he saw. The lad would weave a story.
Robin went to school in the village, and on to Fakenham Grammar. After leaving, he trained in accountancy at Martin and Acock in Norwich, going to college in the evenings to pass his qualifying accountancy examinations.
There were a couple of years of national service in the RAF, working in the accounts section at Horsham St Faith, near Norwich. (Robin went on to spend many years as treasurer of his local Royal Air Force Association and the Royal British Legion.)
He worked for Martin and Acock in Swaffham, cycling every day from Tittleshall until he bought his first car. In 1966 Robin joined Swaffham Urban District Council as a rating officer.
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In 1973 he moved again: to Fakenham, to become clerk to the town council. He stayed until retiring in 2002. Robin is remembered as greatly loved and respected; noted for his adept administrative skills and knowledge, say his relatives.
As registrar in Fakenham, Robin was able to solemnise the vows of marriage, and among those he married were the late Earl of Leicester, whose family had once owned the village and estate of Tittleshall.
Church was central
Much of Robin's life revolved around the Methodist church - both in playing the organ and frequently taking services. His skill was honed on the Binns organ in C of E St Mary's, however. He'd started playing the organ when he was 10, standing in for the regular musician.
Robin later held the position of organist for more than 30 years, and was also treasurer to the parochial church council.
As mentioned earlier, he also led some services there - and did have to leave the Methodist chapel sharpish to get to St Mary's on time!
At the Methodist church, he was credited with a major role in changing seating arrangements for some services. Instead of having chairs in traditional rows, the 5 Ps service (it stood for prayer, praise, poetry, prose and presence) saw the congregation sitting around a table. Easier for all to contribute.
Robin also supported the Wednesday coffee mornings at the chapel, and the foodbank - bringing lots of contributions following his three-weekly trips to the supermarket.
Church matters aside, he was interested in family history and loved music, owning hundreds of records and CDs. He liked to read the monthly nostalgia magazine Best of British, too, and relished those trips to well-stocked Sainsbury's.
Race to finish the crossword
The death in 2005 of brother Nigel, the elder of the two, hit Robin hard. They'd shared the house after losing their parents, and were said to have a bond that was virtually unbreakable.
The brothers enjoyed annual holidays to Somerset. At home, they competed with each other to see who could finish the crossword first. Robin said Nigel always won.
Robin still loved playing the Binns organ, especially after it was overhauled, but he had to stop in 2016 after difficulties with deafness, following a minor car crash.
He began suffering health problems early last year, striving to carry on as normal despite many visits to hospital in King's Lynn and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital taking a toll.
"He had many stays in hospital, which he took in his stride, but the last few weeks were really tough, yet he still had a smile for everyone who visited and he was keen to talk, and fully appreciative of seeing you," says his family.
Robin died in Tapping House Hospice, near King's Lynn. He was 82 years old and described by the Rev King as "very humble and in every way a Christian man".
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