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News > Remembering OV > Remebering Brian "Chick" Roberts

Remebering Brian "Chick" Roberts

BVGS Credentials Student, Boarder, much admired Staff Member
Brian Roberts' 1stXV 1953-54
Brian Roberts' 1stXV 1953-54

 

BRIAN “CHICK” ROBERTS (BVGS 1949-54) (BVGS STAFF 1961-67)

We were devastated to learn of the passing of Brian “Chick” Roberts on Boxing Day 2021 through an email from Dominic Robson. It seems that our lines of communication are flawed in that Brian's widow, Noreen, had sent us an email advising us of her sad news near the time and we had failed to publish alternative addresses following the cessation of the Old Veseyan News.

I first knew of Brian Roberts when he was a teacher at Coleshill Grammar School, which I understand from Roger Crees, was his first job. At that time he had met my father, the headmaster at a local approved school in nearby Shustoke. Apart from their joint interest in education, their conversation inevitably found a common interest in sport, in the National Children's Home and of course, Bishop Vesey's Grammar School, Brian as a former student and me as a junior student of the time.

Brian left Vesey in July 1954 and I started Vesey in September of the same year. Brian joined the staff at Vesey in September 1961 whereas I left in July of the same year! In spite of managing to avoid each other until much later, I met Brian at an Old Veseyan Dinner where he made the connection known. Thus, he never taught me or guided my pastoral care as a boarder. However, I have been fortunate to obtain some fine words from Tony Laithwaite one of his students of the day and much better qualified than me to characterise this fine man and former student of BVGS. 

Brian Roberts.

Feb 8 2022 St Giles the Abbot Church, Farnborough, Kent 

“I've read that everyone has one teacher they remember as having seriously helped set them on a good road for life. For me - and a good few others - it was Brian Roberts. Though, at the time, I'm not sure we knew it. He had our respect - 60 years later I still feel uncomfortable calling him 'Brian.' It's “Mr Roberts, Sir.”

 

Apart all the 'longshore drift', 'U-shaped valleys and stuff geographers do, he played a strong mentoring game. In charge of the Boarding House, he had a high tolerance of boy behaviour. He wasn't soft. But there was always a wry smile when he explained how stupid you'd been. He'd been a boy once, not that long ago, in that very house. But he got to Durham. And the great thing was, in our year alone, he got four of us there too. Same college. All rugby men, like him. Some of us rather undeservingly. It's always worth a go he said, life is not very logical. Have a go. See what happens.

 

We had no idea he'd had a very tough start in life, being in a care home from a very early age. It was never mentioned. He was obviously a very happy man, Noreen, young family and all. He seemed to want to spread that happiness. His Geography field trips were perhaps the most memorable parts of our young lives. Going by train as far as Naples! Imagine…a bunch of Vesey's boys loose, in the Sixties, in Naples! Crazy idea, but we all came back… I think.

 

Some of us were still in touch with Brian nearly 60 years later. I think that's a tribute to a man who was a really good teacher, but also great fun to be with.

 

I don't feel I should be standing here doing this. If he knew Laithwaite was to do his eulogy, he'd beg you to find someone else. Others will know far more about his busy life. But I thank Noreen for the opportunity to salute the teacher who for me was 'the one'.

 

For the record Brian Roberts was BVGS 1st XV captain for the 1953/54 season.

 

 

Noreen Roberts, Brian's wife, wrote to Dominic Robson :-

 

“Brian had a very great affection for BVGS being there as a boy and then as a member of staff.

 

I passed on your kind invitation to visit the School House to my children. They were very excited at the prospect. The boys remember living there but not my daughter as she was only a baby. They are all teachers so finding an opportunity will be difficult.

 

I did enjoy our chat bringing back many happy memories of our time in the Boarding house”.

 

 

 

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