Today, Robin’s huge contribution to the canoeing community and Worcester Canoe Club in particular, was recognised by British Canoeing with an Outstanding Contribution Award.
For over 60 years, Robin has been integral to the club’s success in many and varied ways – as participant, coach and volunteer.
Robin has been supporting and contributing to the life of the club since it was established in 1953. He has given his time generously and without question all his adult life – from teenager to 82nd year and still going strong!
Along with other members he was a pioneer of the sport, developing designs by building boats, experimenting with rolling and finding new places to paddle.
He has introduced generations of paddlers to the sport and spent more hours coaching than could possibly be calculated, giving of his time generously.
He has never been one to be on committees or take the limelight. Robin is one of those people who “gets things done”. You want a ceiling painted, it’s done; you want a new footrest in a boat, it’s there; you wonder who is going to look after that new paddler, he or she’s out paddling with Robin…. and he’s been doing this for well over 60 years. In the last decade, Robin has been the “go to” person at the club for progressing paddlers. He takes those who graduate from a beginner course and gives them the confidence to paddle week in week out in all weather and river conditions. He’ll go as slow as you need and rescue you if you fall in.
He’s spent his lifetime using his great craftsman skills to make and mend club boats, paddles, boat racking, buildings – you name it he’s sorted it.
Robin’s influence can be seen around the club house everywhere; in the quality of the building, the importance the club places on volunteering, the care for its newer paddlers. Generations of paddlers have benefitted from his influence. As well as mending boats, he has built platforms on wheels to move Canadians around the club, made boat stands and built gadgets of all descriptions. He and his fellow retired members have spent many hours decorating and maintaining the club. On top of which in his 80s he still cleans the men’s changing room floor every week!
He, along with other early members, relied on their own initiative and worked tirelessly to create the club we know today. A massive contribution to one of the country’s major clubs.
Advised by his doctor to stop racing about 10 years ago, Robin now enters Div 9, paddles to the turn, waits until everyone goes past, then paddles back shouting encouragement to anyone who is struggling to get to the finish.
It is people like Robin who enable clubs to function and prosper, rarely in the limelight but who are the lifeblood of a club. Incredibly, Robin’s selfless contribution has spanned more than 60 years.
What you said:
“He is a remarkable self-effacing individual – nothing is too much trouble.” – David Anwyl-Hughes
“Robin has been coach, mentor and friend to generations of Worcester paddlers.” – Julian Harris
“Robin taught me to paddle when I was 13 years old (circa 1963). I found that a skinny asthmatic little kid could do something moderately competently. He changed my life.” – Chris Skellern
“He is always ready to do those things for the club which many take for granted: clean the loos and sweep out the mud after a flood.” – Stan Smith
“I’ve spent many a morning watching his black and white slides and marvel at the adventures he managed to get up to with his homemade equipment.” – Ben Dolling
“Robin was originally – post National Service – a dental mechanic and a superb craftsman, both in making and repairing all types of canoes and kayaks. He could turn his hand to any form of building work and as a consequence was very much in demand when the Club moved over to Hylton Road and then back again to Grandstand Road.” – Fess Parker
“Whatever the weather he always turns up to take kayakers out three times a week to develop their skills and confidence and keep them safe on the water.” – Helen Russell
“He is always friendly, interested in and supportive of people who want to share and enjoy the river by paddle power. He is a star.” – Maggi Noke
“Robin has the club’s interests at heart and loves to see it flourish.” – Sue Hawthorn
“What a hero!” – Claudia Berry