It is with deep regret that we announce the peaceful death of our Founder and President, Professor Alan Robinson, on 29 August 2019, aged 99 years.
It was Alan who wrote a letter to The Daily Telegraph to call the meeting on 30 October 1959 which led to the formation of the Society. A full obituary will be included in the Winter issue on Paddle Wheels, due in December, but in the meantime Victor Gray, who held several offices in the Society between 1960 and 1980, offers some memories of Alan.
Victor writes “I believe I first met Alan in July 1960 when I joined the Central Committee as Society Secretary, a job previously held by Tony McGinnity, who continued as Treasurer. Alan’s job at University of Wales, Aberystwyth, meant that he had a good distance to travel, usually by train, to attend meetings. His family ties were in Southampton which became the base for much PSPS activity. I remember him as being thoughtful and thorough in chairing meetings, few words were wasted and he could inject humour when required. His chairmanship lasted three years during which time the Society became respected and the foundations were laid for where we are today-almost at our diamond jubilee.
I recall the occasion when he chaired the formation meeting of the London & Home Counties Branch of PSPS at Clwb y Cymry, Oxford Circus. Ten minutes before the meeting began, an interview was broadcast by BBC Radio Newsreel recorded a little earlier in the day during which Alan explained the purpose of the meeting and the aims of the Society. He was a genuine working chairman.
Over all the years that followed, as President, he continued to attend the major meetings and events whenever he could and at other times sent his apologies often accompanied by a message.
I continued to see him on many of those occasions. After his retirement to Swanage, he looked forward to the annual visits by Waverley (and Balmoral). He told me that his favourite sailing from Swanage was to Yarmouth so that he could go for a walk on the Isle of Wight whilst the ship went on elsewhere. I believe the last time I saw him was in 2009 when he was aboard Waverley for the PSPS Golden Jubilee charter from Poole to Southampton. He was presented with a painting done by Tony Horn, appropriately of the Freshwater, the ship that sparked his letter to the Daily Telegraph 50 years ago.
We have lost a true gentleman in the real meaning of the word but secure in the knowledge that what he helped create will live on.”