I have the great honour of being asked to say a few words on behalf of all Bob's many friends in the 750 Motor Club of which he was such a long standing pivotal member and hard working stalwart of the Committee who always joined in all the Clubs many activities with such vigour and a sense of fun.
Many of you know it is not my habit to speak from notes but on this occasion I have prepared a text because I wish Jean and the family to have a record of just how much he was loved and admired by his friends
Although a day of deep sadness it is ameliorated by knowing that for Bob the pain and anguish is over.
It is also a day to celebrate the life of a truly good friend and gentleman.
In our present age we have the shallow – some would say false – cult of the celebrity: persons admired and almost worshiped solely because they have come to the attention of the media but often lacking any real substance or goodness.
Dear Bob was the antithesis of this – always modest about himself and his many achievements – always putting others first, yet always first himself to offer unstinting help to friends when needed. Just one of many examples: one remembers him staying behind with Robin and others on the Quayside to yet again change the Bullnose Cowley clutch whilst the rest of us set forth to enjoy the delights of motoring in the Picos.
Unlike almost anyone I have known I have never heard anyone say anything but good about Bob and they were right to do so.
I described him earlier as a Gentleman; some would say an old fashioned word, but it epitomises Bob's values and all that was worthwhile about him.
He was always very smart in his dress and appearance – indeed some members who unlike Bob got up late with uncombed hair could set matters right by using Bob's shoes as a mirror.
Indeed this smartness shone out in his many cars which were so well maintained and so rarely broke down. As the third member of the Club to own the ubiquitous Morris 8 "CUF" he transformed it above its humble status to the most practical reliable concours car on the road. His luxury barge the Austin Sheerline gave shelter to many a wet cold driver of open 1920's and 30's cars lashed by rain.
Always punctual meticulous and thorough in giving more than 100% to his work and indeed his leisure activities many in the Club including Joyce and I sought his services. Over the course of several days he fitted a new shower for us leaving the "work site" so immaculate each evening that I assumed that the Queen must be a guest for the night.
Bob was always extremely courteous and mindful of others never loosing his quiet but powerful patience even when thwarted.
Lest you think that he was perfect there was a naughty side that was reflected in another habit now seen as old fashioned of "corridor creeping". This came to light on one of the many Robin Holidays to France in the famous seaside hotel in Plumenack. Having in error entered Jane's bedroom unannounced and uninvited as she lay resting on the bed with barely more on than God had provided her with he claimed that his error was caused by all the rooms looking alike. Some unkind wag dubbed him the cartoon character "Doctor Filth".
But the other most endearing quality that made his company so enjoyable was his lively sense of humour and ready quip which was so useful to defuse one of those many "old car" breakdown moments. Equally when he was the subject of the joke he would receive it with the same good grace.
Compared to today's standards he comes from a large sibling group and because of the nature of his work his brothers when they saw him used to sing the well known Flanders & Swan song "The Gas Man Cometh" with which he always joined in and boy could he sing. Who in the Club will ever forget Bob's impromptu Karaoke performances on Cross Channel Ferries and his "tour de force" at the hotel in Italy when he replaced and totally outshone the provided entertainer – he even got the French visitors dancing.
Bob we shall all greatly miss your company and friendship and our thoughts now turn to Jean, Aden, Jackie, her husband and the grandchildren for whom the loss will be so very hard to bear as you were such a good husband father and grandfather.
But let us end on a positive note as I know Bob – who throughout all his terrible illness remained cheerful and forward thinking – would wish us to do and have three cheers to celebrate the joy of the memory of a wonderful man.
THREE CHEERS FOR ROBERT SMITH