Passionate wildlife photographer and ‘true family man’ who rejected Chelsea and Tottenham remembered

Robert McKenna, who passed away in November 2020, was a passionate wildlife photographer known as Wi

Robert McKenna, who passed away in November 2020, was a passionate wildlife photographer known as WildRob47. PHOTO: Courtesy of McKenna family - Credit: Archant

A keen wildlife photographer who rejected the chance to become a professional footballer to capture the beauty of East Anglia has been remembered as a “passionate family man.”

Ryan, Rhiannon, Roisin, Alastair, Stuart, Declan and Robert McKenna. PHOTO: Courtesy of McKenna fami

Ryan, Rhiannon, Roisin, Alastair, Stuart, Declan and Robert McKenna. PHOTO: Courtesy of McKenna family - Credit: Archant

Robert McKenna passed away earlier this month aged 73 after a five-year battle with prostate cancer.

Born in Ipswich, Mr McKenna was a rising star around his hometown’s football scene as a youngster and was scouted and approached by Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur.

Yet he rejected their advances to stay close to his family and friends and pursue his passion for photography, which he continued throughout his illness.

His favourite spots around East Anglia including Coopers Lane and around Kessingland, Dunwich, under the Orwell Bridge and Carlton Marshes.

Robert McKenna was a passionate wildlife photographer. PHOTO: Courtesy of McKenna family

Robert McKenna was a passionate wildlife photographer. PHOTO: Courtesy of McKenna family - Credit: Archant


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Mr McKenna, who developed a passion for the outdoors from an early age, would frequently win photography competitions, including the Lowestoft Journal’s Picture of the Week.

He was also an avid Lowestoft Town fan, collecting hundreds of match programmes and following the Trawlerboys to Wembley for the FA Vase final in 2008, with son Alastair part of the travelling squad.

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His eldest son Stuart McKenna, said: “He would often be on his bike heading towards Coopers Lane with camera in hand to capture the perfect shot.

“He was a family man through and through.

Robert McKenna won numerous photography competitions as WildRob47. PHOTO: Courtesy of McKenna family

Robert McKenna won numerous photography competitions as WildRob47. PHOTO: Courtesy of McKenna family - Credit: Archant

“He loved collecting music vinyls, Lowestoft Town programmes since Ali played, and press cuttings of his photos.”

After marrying “soulmate” Doreen, the family moved to Lowestoft in 1984 before settling in Kessingland and raising seven children - Paul, Stuart, Alastair, Rhiannon, Ryan, Decland and Roisin.

Stuart said: “His children were his life and he immensely enjoyed raising them outdoors with various hobbies and creating memorable adventures, and we have fond memories of countless adventures to the beach, Dunwich Forest and on woodland walks.

“His grandchildren played a major part in his life and he enjoyed endlessly playing with them in the garden, taking photos, teaching them about insects and making them giggle.

Robert McKenna won numerous photography competitions as WildRob47. PHOTO: Courtesy of McKenna family

Robert McKenna won numerous photography competitions as WildRob47. PHOTO: Courtesy of McKenna family - Credit: Archant

“He was much-loved and will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him. He was a true hero and role model to his children.”

Robert McKenna with wife Doreen. PHOTO: Courtesy of McKenna family

Robert McKenna with wife Doreen. PHOTO: Courtesy of McKenna family - Credit: Archant

Robert McKenna won numerous photography competitions as WildRob47. PHOTO: Courtesy of McKenna family

Robert McKenna won numerous photography competitions as WildRob47. PHOTO: Courtesy of McKenna family - Credit: Archant

Robert McKenna won numerous photography competitions as WildRob47. PHOTO: Courtesy of McKenna family

Robert McKenna won numerous photography competitions as WildRob47. PHOTO: Courtesy of McKenna family - Credit: robert mckenna

Robert McKenna won numerous photography competitions as WildRob47. PHOTO: Courtesy of McKenna family

Robert McKenna won numerous photography competitions as WildRob47. PHOTO: Courtesy of McKenna family - Credit: robert mckenna

Hazy Winter morning over Kessingland marshes. PHOTO: Robert McKenna

Hazy Winter morning over Kessingland marshes. PHOTO: Robert McKenna - Credit: robert mckenna

Carlton Marshes. PHOTO: Robert McKenna

Carlton Marshes. PHOTO: Robert McKenna - Credit: robert mckenna

Lowestoft Harbour. PHOTO: Robert McKenna

Lowestoft Harbour. PHOTO: Robert McKenna - Credit: robert mckenna

Abandoned at Southwold harbour. PHOTO: Robert McKenna

Abandoned at Southwold harbour. PHOTO: Robert McKenna - Credit: robert mckenna

River Waveney. PHOTO: Robert McKenna

River Waveney. PHOTO: Robert McKenna - Credit: robert mckenna

Blue tit admiring itself in the mirror. PHOTO: Robert McKenna

Blue tit admiring itself in the mirror. PHOTO: Robert McKenna - Credit: robert mckenna

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