Robin and I were both part of the intake to Mundella Grammar School in September 1958 when we were eleven years old. There were 120 boys and girls in the new first form from all over the south side of Nottingham. We were divided into four classes, with 30 kids in each, Robin and I were not in the same class.

However, the four classes shared some activities and tended to hang out together in the new surroundings and somehow Robin and I ended up on speaking terms. I suppose we had some common interests. One day we were chatting in the school yard, waiting for the bell to announce that it was time to go inside. When I first met him, I had assumed that his stiff gait and creaky legs indicated that he had leg irons, which was not uncommon in the 1950’s as the Polio epidemic had left a lot of kids with physical problems. I didn’t pry and only found out later what had happened to cause Robin’s lack of movement.

On this day, I had noticed that Robin had a particularly heavy school bag and when the bell sounded, I asked him if he wanted a hand with it. He blew his top! His fists were up, and he was screaming at me that he didn’t need any help from anybody. I was bigger than him and much quicker on my feet. But I realised the mistake I had made and apologised, he was less than satisfied and I wasn’t sure that he was going to speak to me again.

It was a good lesson for me to learn at the age of eleven, and that was the first and last disagreement that we had.

Over the next five years we were often thrown together in different activities both within the school and in social situations too. – the girls invited both of us to their parties.

Robin participated in any physical activity that he could. Rugby was out of the question, but he was happy to give that a miss anyway. Because of his disability, he was provided transportation to and from school in a taxi. He pretty soon gave that up. He preferred to be on the trolley bus with everyone else AND he would invariably go upstairs. Sometimes it would make you wince to see him achieve almost impossible tasks; he developed very strong upper body strength and would pull himself up the bus’s stairs in very ungainly, but always successful, manoeuvres.

Next, he decided to ride a bike. His parents would not buy him a bike and forbade him from riding one. But he had lots of friends at school who had bikes and he pestered us to lend him ours so that he could learn to ride around the block. I would have gone along with this, but at that time, my parents had just bought me a new 10-speed road racer and I didn’t think it would be a good bike to learn on and I loved my bike; I didn’t want to risk getting it smashed up. Had I still had my old bike I would have lent it to him. Anyway, he gave up on me and eventually found a sympathetic rider who would help him out. The school and its grounds occupied a single block. If you set off down the road from the school gates, after four left turns you arrived back where you started from. One day, while walking on these streets I heard the sound of a voice I knew shouting and whooping. And Robin whizzed past me on a bike waving his hands at anybody he saw. Even though he’s learned to ride a bike, his parents still wouldn’t buy him one. Knowing more or less how his legs worked, I still cannot figure out how he managed to turn the pedals. But riding on quiet streets around the school was one thing, getting home through town would have been extremely hazardous. Nevertheless. He’d proved his point and conquered another challenge.

After a year or two. We’d all grown. I was several inches taller than Robin now and it was time for him to get some new legs that would match the rest of his body. When he arrived at school one day, he was suddenly taller than me. He must have gained about 9 inches with his new legs. Apart from the fact that the new ones were quieter, and did not rattle like the old ones which apart from becoming too small were probably wrecked from all the abuse he had given them. The new ones seemed to have better knee joints, matched his physique and just worked better.

Over the next year Robin got into more activities inspite of his legs. In summer, we played cricket, and he was pretty good with a bat. Although, most people who’s running was incapacitated would have a ‘‘runner”, Robin insisted on doing his own running. By this time everyone knew Robin and were not surprised that he would do this. Robin had attracted the attention of our senior games master, George. And George came over to our field to take a closer look at Robin’s batting skills. Robin took the wicket and I was bowling. I was a keen bowler and was happy for the chance to show George what I could do. So, the first three balls I gave him were fast and low, forcing him to make a defensive stroke. George stopped me and asked me to give him something he could hit, so I tossed down the next balls at a medium pitch and pace. Robin hit them away to mid-on and mid-off, giving the fielders something to run after. George did not ask to see any more of my bowling, but he did take Robin as part of his first team (probably under 16s at that time). George also made it clear to Robin that he could do his own running in practice, but in competition games he would definitely have a runner!

In my last year at the school, when we were all turning 16, Robin showed up at the pool to swim with us. He had not done this before, but it says a lot about his increased strength and confidence. In those days the changing cubicles were along the length of the pool, and when we were there for a school session (not a public session) we could leave our clothes in the cubicle and get straight into the water.

I could not bear to watch him wobble the six feet from the cubicle to the waters edge and drop into the pool. The floor around the pool was tiled, absolutely rock hard. It could not have been easy tottering across on his stumps to reach the water. But, you know Robin, he just made it work with no fuss. He would never have asked for any kind of assistance. And clearly loved the freedom of floating and swimming in the water.

I live in Vancouver, and 20 years ago when I found out that Robin was just a few hours away down the I5, I arranged to visit him. I spent a lovely evening with him and Georgie in Dallas OR. And I told him that he had been a role model to me at school. He was surprised that I should say this. But as I hope you can see from these stories, he was a shining example of determination, independence, leadership; not to mention humour, loyalty and friendship. Throughout Covid, Robin has been part of our old school friends’ group on Zoom. Bless you Robin it’s been over 60 years we’ve known each other.

I remember Robin with great affection and admiration. One day I felt ill and was probably terrified of the dreaded Mr. Daniels. Robin saw a few tears and was most concerned.  I was, some sixty years later, to learn from Penny Disney that at junior school Robin used to lash out with his sticks if someone annoyed him!!!

One evening, waiting at the bus stop after some party somewhere, it was very icy. Robin repeatedly fell on his back, hitting his head, but would not accept any help.

I have two recollections some four years later, I was in a pub and spotted Robin, I was with Ian, now my husband. I went to Robin, and he commented on how I had changed - he would never have recognised me. I was at Loughborough University and for the first time in my life I had money to buy clothes!  Mind you, on the Zoom meeting he didn’t remember it!

The second instance was at Loughborough when I had to do a speech about somebody I admired, and I talked about Robin. The Lecturer called me over and asked me if I loved him! Later years I was to find out she was part of a lesbian group at the university. I didn’t even know what lesbians were!

I did not know Robin was ill, but I will remember him with great admiration.


Pat Montgomery


. I remember Robin from before Mundella, in Sneinton. I have an abiding memory of some of us kids playing on Sneinton Boulevard and somebody annoyed Robin and tried to bully him - HUGE MISTAKE. Robbin just beat the boy up with his crutches! Nobody messed with him after that.


Penny (Disney as was)

Like you, I had known Robin for over 60 years. He was always doing all he could to live with his disability and just get on with as normal and as full a life as he possibly could. He played tennis, he came with us youth hostelling, and he got around on his Vespa scooter – sometimes with me on the back, and in the days where crash helmets were not a requirement.

He and his first wife, Susan, came to my first wedding in 1969. Some years later, I visited him and Georgette when they lived on Long Island and they came over to see us once, as did Dawn. A few years ago, I stayed with him in Dallas, Oregon.

The last time I saw him face to face was in June last year when he came to Nottingham to see his family. We had lunch at the Trip in the Castle rock and he told me then that this would be his last visit. He must have known, but never said, how he was feeling and the extent of his cancer. We WhatsApped every 2-3 weeks. He was delighted he had managed to sell his house in Dallas, Oregon and buy a lakeside home nearer to his daughter, who lives near Nashville, Tennessee. He and his dog, Scruffy II, were settling in well and then, on 13 December he called me from the hospital. I was worried to see him in a hospital bed but pleased to be able to speak with him. I didn’t know at the time that that would be the last time we would chat together. I said I would message to see if he was up for a call and await his response. It never came. My message of 23 December was answered by Dawn who gave me the sad news. I will miss him.

Dave Vincent (Prof)