Below is a transcript of the eulogy delivered by Jim Jack at Bob’s funeral.
Each one of us assembled in this building today has been touched for the better in some way by the way Bob lived his life. Each one of mourns his untimely passing for the loss of that touch. All of us unite in our great sadness for Jean, for John his brother, for the immediate families – and for each other – for each of carries with us pieces of a jigsaw which was only complete in his living. It is a genuine honour to be asked to bring some of these pieces together today, not only to build a picture of what we have lost, but to celebrate and pay tribute to the many facets of a life lived to the full.
The skills and qualities pieces
How to bring together the pieces of Bob the husband, Bob the brother, Bob the son, Bob the teacher, Bob the cricketer, Bob the author, Bob the researcher, Bob the freemason, Bob the musician, Bob the actor, Bob the map maker, Bob the collector, Bob the gardener, Bob the builder and form them into a complete picture this afternoon – a wider picture than any one of us may individually possess- in a way which will allow us in the months to come to marvel at the skills of our friend – and more importantly the underpinning human qualities of humility, care, love, respect, reliability, dedication, leadership, commitment and humour which infused all aspects of his life
We often use the phrase ‘He had a good innings’ for someone who has lived his allotted span. In Bob’s case, he retired hurt on the 9th December with the innings still in full flow - and never got the chance to return to the crease to complete it.
Mind you, it’s not the first time that happened. Playing for Darlington in a league match one afternoon, he was wrongly adjudged out when batting and trudged off to the dressing room in high dudgeon. Never one to tolerate injustice – especially to himself - he returned to the crease at the fall of the next wicket to resume his innings – only to be sent back by the keen-eyed umpire who knew Bob of old. This was the Mad Hatter of local cricket legend.
The Double Life – old time tramp
On one occasion, in a match believed to be between Darlington and Richmond, a tramp appeared at the gates of the club in a long coat, scruffy hat topping scruffy fair hair and old wellingtons and shuffled round the boundary whilst Darlington were fielding. With new boy Alan Cave fielding at fine leg, the tramp approached him asking if he could spare some money for a cup of tea. Alan tried to concentrate on the game and said he had no money. The tramp persisted to distract him for the remainder of the over and another one before Alan asked to be moved to another part of the ground. The tramp shuffled round the boundary completed his circuit and left, never to be seen again. The same tramp was to appear at Hartlepool Cricket ground, entering the home team dressing room and lying on the table as if asleep. He also appeared in the classroom at Hummerknott School teaching Bob’s Geography class about farming – and on stage with Fourum performing the Twelve Days of Christmas. He then appeared at Jean’s side on his first meeting with some of her family. The Northern Echo believed that the Mad Hatter nickname was derived from Bob’s fast bowling; whilst this may be partly true, I believe it is as much to do with his wonderful and off-beat sense of humour.
The gift of laughter
What a gift it is to make people smile, to cause us to laugh out loud. With a deadpan face and a gift for clowning and for story-telling, Bob possessed this in abundance. I suppose he was a walking ‘You’ve Been Framed’ or ‘Watch out, Hattersley’s about!’
I first met Bob just before he started work at Hummersknott School. Quiet and reserved at first meeting, we became better acquainted when, as a new teacher keen to establish himself in the life of the school, he came along to the folk club which Allen Miller and I were organising. His singing was lusty and enthusiastic –even in quiet ballads – but we struck up a friendship when circumstances pushed us into setting up our own folk band for one performance only – ten songs and with Bob’s amazingly good impersonations of Harold Wilson, Freddie Davies, Eddie Waring, Brian Clough providing a hugely entertaining middle section to the programme – not to mention his highly individualistic interpretation of the Twelve Days of Christmas, with the legendary tramp garb, a bell (5 golden rings), a kitchen glove (eight maids a milking) and energy-sapping actions for swans-a-swimming, lords-a-leaping, and ladies dancing - which meant we got a great appreciation at the end even if the singing had been rubbish. He taught himself to play percussion, including spoons (ever tried it?) and made an occasional sortie with the harmonica. I understand that Bob was intending to surprise Fourum with a didgereedo in 2011!
As the band developed, we saw evidence of Bob’s meticuluous planning, recording and researching increasingly. His brothers in Freemasonry will recognise these skills in his work with them. A giant sheet upon which he noted every song we had sung, at which concert and on what date; deep research which helped Allen develop interesting areas for his unique songs capturing local history and legends and then the wonderful maps which he produced about the areas in the songs with that beautiful and small printing recording the outcomes of his research. He had taken responsibility for producing a book of the songs just before he went into hospital.
On stage, he took on a different and increasingly confident persona, introducing songs with intense factual detail or wonderfully amusing stories. His story about the goat and the mine shaft still makes people laugh even when they’re hearing it for the umpteenth time. Virtually every performance was fun for us- and just sharing the smiles as we were singing and getting to the end of songs with a feeling of a job decently done was magic.
The inspirational teacher
He turned this capacity to entertain to brilliant use in the classroom. Panning for gold with real water on the classroom floor, sitting on the desk to imitate a Rhode Island Red hen, enlivening lessons with jokes, humourous interchanges with pupils, sending students out to collect a sample of fresh air from the football goalmouth were interspersed with collecting and holding hostage all window poles in the humanities corridor – closely followed by the board rubbers. Perhaps stacking all of the desks in a fellow teacher’s classroom at one end of the room and hiding all of the chairs was going a bit too far – but it was memorable.
But underneath all of this was a superb professional who knew his subject outstandingly well, kept himself up to date, had high expectations of everyone he taught, marked meticulously and immediately, produced an outstanding classroom environment and increasingly became the person who others turned to for advice and help.
And beneath all of this were the key qualities which meant that he inspired many – and that has nothing to do with knowing your subject. You see, Bob cared about and knew his pupils. John Todd recalls his encyclopaedic knowledge of each student in his year group when meeting the Careers Tutor.
Many of his students loved him, were inspired by him. He did not set out to court popularity. He was hard on those who slacked or messed around when work was to be done. What each individual knew was that he cared about them and was interested in each as an individual. He talked, questioned, counselled, advised with a degree of genuine interest which has produced wonderful tributes sent to Jean from men and women to whom he was and still is Mr Hattersley.
Part of this I believe came from his own career in education. He failed the 11+ and went to Eastbourne Secondary Modern School. At that point, he told his mother that he would do three things by the age of 21. He would go to University and get a degree, play cricket for Darlington 1sts and have £1000 in the bank. In whatever capacity we have known Bob, it will surprise no one to know that he did all three. A 2.1 joint honours degree in Geography and Geology, a place as a fiery opening bowler for Darlington and (I am told) a treasure trove of at least £1000 in the bank was all the evidence needed – of his ability, his talent and his determination to achieve the best.
He worked hard and consistently to earn a place at the grammar school after GCEs with the best grades ever obtained at Eastbourne and then surpassed many who had been selected at 11 by winning the William Barningham Scholarship – his name is still to be seen on the board in Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College today.
No waste – time, talent, money
This was all done because there were three things Bob never wasted – his time, his talent or his money. His fellow masons will know well and marvel at his avid and detailed research skills in producing his definitive work on the Jewels of the Craft and his carefully prepared talks on Masonic history – all delivered with consummate ease and no notes – but well illustrated and engagingly presented - the product of a man who had done his work thoroughly and knew his stuff.
Bob the mason
But this was not just one off commitment. His editing of and writing for the quarterly magazine ‘Diadem’ for the past 10 years, expanding its content from 20 – 48 pages illustrates another facet of Bob’s character – reliability and commitment.
His work with a number of lodges and a variety of capacities until his death illustrates his willingness to take on responsibility, his communication skills – and perhaps his difficulty to saying no in an area in which he has an interest and where he believes he has something to offer... or simply that something needs doing and someone has to do it.
His capacity to write a 125 page history of his lodge would come as no surprise to his fellow cricketers at Darlington, who will recall his 200 page epic recording the history of Darlington Cricket Club with a mixture of pithy tales and detailed statistics – all the product of time-consuming research and careful writing. Described as ‘stupendous’ by the Northern Echo, Bob financed the publication of this book himself. Not a potential best-seller - Jean probably still has some copies if you’re interested. What is missing from the book are the times when, for example, R Hattersley stopped a game to look for a lost contact lens. With most of the cricketers and two spectators helping in the search, a fellow player suddenly said – but you don’t wear contact lenses. Bob looked for a moment, said ‘Oh no’ and resumed the game.
Fiery or quiet
His commitment on the sports field is well known. He was a fiery fast bowler, not averse to having a bit of cherry blossom on him to ensure the ball kept its shine, bowling in an intimidating fashion at times. He took up hockey for a few years as a defender with his fierce hitting and short whippy back swing providing threats to man and ball alike. He would not be intimidated or back down if he saw injustice or he perceived himself to have been wronged. But behind this was, I believe, very private and shy man with at times a bluff exterior covering a gentle and emotional side to his nature. His relatively recent conversion to croquet saw the same determination to improve and compete come out – although his willingness to exist on a 50p Len Hutton autograph bat in cricket was surpassed by the purchase of his own set of croquet balls and mallet with the expressed intention of getting his handicap down.
Apart from the music and cricket, his hobbies were satisfying but solitary. He had a wonderful stamp collection, a collection of cricket books and memorabilia, collections relating to freemasonry. He had great skills as a carpenter, his piece de resistance being a wonderful full case grandfather clock made out of oak. He also introduced me to the wonders of Dickens second hand melamine and showed me how to build myself as set of wardrobes. As with his meticulous cataloguing of the resources in the Masonic museum in Sunderland, his interests were fuelled by patience, diligence and an enviable degree of organisation, planning and a great memory for information.
Regrets – 2
His main regrets in life were probably not being born in Yorkshire and not meeting Jean earlier. Whilst the first was always outside his control, a lifelong friend, Bill Bodycome recalled his shock at ringing Bob one day and being greeted by a woman in capital letters who introduced herself as Mrs Hattersley. Jean quickly became a central and focal point of his life and his interest in cricket quickly declined! Happily, his interest in Fourum remained as Jean became a regular member of the audience, the seller of CDs and, even after a hard week’s teaching, a loyal follower and seller of tickets for concerts. As a member of the band, I often judged the quality of our Friday night gigs on whether Jean was yawning or not in the first half and whether she was still awake in the second.
Bob and Jean were and in a way will always be a great and mutually supportive team. Each encouraged the other, with interests –or at least activities- shared. For the many masons here today, I’m not sure how many of your wives spent your honeymoon solving codes on Masonic gravestones, or organised holidays to enable attendance at national meetings.
The fact that Jean got Bob to fly to Australia was an achievement as Bob has never been a great traveller outside the UK (called himself a geographer!! – all theory!) Indeed, I swear that Bob’s heart rate in the hospital under sedation rose as I related the time when Bob was lying in bed on a school trip on the boat with his face the same colour as the sheet when returning from Holland in a force 8 gale.
Jean supported and encouraged Bob in all that he did with Freemasonry and with Fourum. He said in his own summary of his life that the great love of his life is Jean. He could not have achieved all he did within and for the Masonic movement without her backing and understanding – not an understanding of the detail of what he was finding out through his researches but rather an understanding of his own drive to find out, to delve, to research, to make sense of, to set the present in the context of the past and then to communicate his learning to others who are interested – those same qualities which underpinned his teaching in schools.
Together they developed the garden to be a thriving, productive area; together they travelled and explored; together they watched Columbo DVDs. Together their faith grew as their participation in this church grew. Again, Bob’s deepening faith was fuelled by his own efforts to understand and learn through reading almost daily – particularly in the few weeks leading up to his operation. Together they supported each other in their latter years in teaching when the going got harder as the values for which they both stood were seemingly diminished by how schools chose to deliver central government objectives.
So who is the Bob you remember with fondness, respect and affection? Is it the cricketer who went down on all fours to bark at a dog which had invaded the pitch? Is it the fielder who, when sent to field on the fence, did just that at Thirsk? Is it the teacher whose room was an inspiration, who flung the windows wide open in the depths of winter whilst teaching in a short sleeved shirt? Is it the customer at Geoffrey Gillow’s who chose his clothes with care? Is it the staff footballer at Hummersknott who witnessed Bob the goalkeeper rush out at the penalty taker forcing him to shoot wide? Is it Bob the gardener who exchanged cuttings and ideas with Rod here? Is it Bob the mason whose commitment and interest to his duties, his fellow members was total and unswerving? Is it Bob the performer with his voice, drum, spoons and numerous unlikely tales? Is it Bob the map-maker, author and craftsman?
Bob demonstrated immense talent which he always under-estimated. In a letter sent to Jean, the following was written. ‘He was beyond doubt, in that highest rank of men whose decency, honesty and integrity marked him out as special. A gentle man, but a man of strength; a quiet man but a man of strength; a cultured man but one who used his many talents for the happiness of others. A teacher (can I add life long?) who encouraged and inspired his pupils and who is remembered by them with affection and gratitude. Bob was a wonderful man who had the gift of making anyone who met him feel better for being in his presence.’
And for me – well, all of this and more – a man respected in life and mourned in his passing. A respect based upon this wonderful humanity, self-deprecation and kindness – and - he made us laugh – and those smiling memories live on.
In the weeks before his operation, Bob and I talked more than we have for some time. We talked cricket, faith and music. One thing which he said to Jean and John is that what he would really want if fate dictated that he didn’t come out of the other side of the operation was that Fourum would sing Gunnerside Gill Remembered at this unwanted occasion if it occurred. Allen is upset not to be with us, but Rod, Sandy and I will attempt this now as a tribute to a key member of our group and a cracking good friend. Hopefully you will hear the words – but we are likely to be thinking of the goat and the railway sleeper introduction. Rest in peace Bob. It’ll be a poorer place without you here – but heaven will be fun!
We are deeply saddened to announce that our long-standing good friend and fellow musician, Bob, passed away on 29th December 2010, following an operation on 9th December to remove a kidney tumour which had only recently been detected. He was a hugely talented man who would do anything for anyone and under-rated his own contribution to the lives of others. His percussion work, his voice, his immense sense of humour and his constancy as a friend will be very sadly missed by the rest of us in the band
Bob was laid to rest in Darlington Cemetery following a service in All Saints Church attended by well over four hundred friends from the many parts of his life. Our current intention is to complete the work we started as a group of five – the un-mixed but recorded CD and the song book - with the four of us who remain. It is what Bob wanted and what his wife, Jean, has requested. We also intend to continue to perform and make it fun in his memory and for the audiences old and new.
|The Early Years|
|The Middle Years|
|The Later Years|
|Gunnerside Gill- Remembered|
|Singing The Dales|
|Folk with Fourum: In Concert|
|The Dales Revisited|
|The Making of Swaledale|
|The Drummer Boy of Richmond|
|The Dales Collection|
|Rod Songs 1|
|Prices and Ordering|