When I first meet Bob be was still working for the underground. Not long afterwards he was elected onto the EC. What attracted me to Bob, was he made me laugh, feel very special and I felt protected by him.
Bob was a hard working person and gave his all to the betterment of his members. He then was elected Assistant General Secretary. When Jimmy Knapp died he stood for General Secretary and got elected. Before he stood for the position he asked me if I minded, as it would take him away from home a lot more. I told him to go for it, as I knew he had so much he wanted to do and give to his Union, his members and fight injustices. He got involved in many organisations that could help people around the world and raised RMTs profile and for members’ betterment.
Being General Secretary, was by no means an easy role to fulfil. He had to give up his role as a football manager for a local Sunday league team, which was a shame as he enjoyed it so much. It was a time that he could escape from the pressures of work. He would get involved in planning his team’s game and afterwards be like one of the lads having pints and a laugh. My only stipulation being that he be home for the family Sunday roast dinner together.
Life was tough at times as he dealt with the pressures of Union business; outside organisations and the press. I feel it was very hard on him at times. The stress levels were crazy. He would always try to be everywhere for everyone; never wanting to let anyone down. If he said he would do something, he would do it, even if he was completely shattered. I did manage to get him along to the gym to work out, instead of running along the streets to ease the stress.
Nights out with him were a laugh and normally entailed him taking the “p” out of us, sometime during the evening. He always loved to have a laugh; sing karaoke and was always able to bring people together who might have never spoken to each other. He was sociable and would speak to anyone who spoke to him or as usual have his photograph done with anyone who asked for one with them.
Bob was good at talking and putting people at ease and he was a very caring man. He always remembered names and the person and would ask after them or their loved ones. He had an inner strength that made people want to get up and take control of their lives. He would encourage this not only in his family, but to his members as well. He believed that if you really wanted something you had to go and get it, as long as you worked for it.
I remember, when the kids were growing up they wanted a dog, and of course Bob, being Bob typically on his way home from the pub was approached by a man who after talking with him sold him a puppy. That’s how we got Castro. Bob slept downstairs with Castro for a couple of nights as he (Castro) had just left his mum and was crying, so Bob stayed with him until he stopped.
He loved, his football team, Millwall and was a true supporter through and through He took me to my first football match, years ago. I remember it clearly, it was the Millwall v Chelsea match. I couldn’t believe what I saw; the fans fighting each other and police on horses trying to separate the rival supporters, all while the game was playing. I was petrified but he was totally calm saying it was the “norm” for a match. There was a rematch at Chelsea’s turf and he asked if I would like to go. I told him without hesitation “no way”! People would make fun of him and pull his leg for supporting Millwall, but he didn’t care, his dad introduced him to Millwall and he stayed true to Millwall and loved attending the Den and was a season ticket holder. His other local team that he supported was Dagenham and Redbridge.
He liked to iron for the family, he would stick on a movie and iron away. He enjoyed cooking, and would often swop recipes with people. I was quite happy with this arrangement as I hate ironing and wasn’t the best cook in the world, as he would often tell me! He also loved his garden and would spend hours pottering about in it.
He loved to watch films, his favourites were: The Sopranos and The Godfather. He also loved watching, Only Fools and Horses. He loved to read biographies and books about the East End of London.
Although, he gave his all for his members, sometimes to the detriment of his health his family know that he always loved all of us deeply.
I think the hardest part of the job was when strikes were on. He dealt with management which he could handle, but it was the hounding by the press that made it so much harder for him. Sometimes it was unbearable and during those times he would want to leave and do a normal job to get away from the hatred of the press against him.
He will always be remembered and loved by all four of his children and his grandchildren. Unfortunately he will never see them grow up nor see two of his daughters getting married. He will never be forgotten by any of us. As, for the grandchildren, we will always remind them of what a great man their grandad was. I hope that some of his magic will rub off onto them.
I and all our family love and miss him dearly and he will always have a place in our hearts for the rest of our lives and I hope that you will also keep a little bit of him in your hearts too. Xx