Robert John Elder - Leicester St Martins 41 Club
Robert John Elder – to his family he was Robert but to most of his friends he was known as “Bob”
Bob was born in Scotland in 1938 – in Galashiels – and in spite of living south of the border for most of his life, he never forgot his Scottish roots, even to the extent of quietly supporting the Scottish Rugby team. He was delighted recently as they actually began to win the odd match.
At an early age his family moved south with his Fathers’ job to Chesterfield where Bob spent his school years. At the age of 19 he met Ann. There began a perfect relationship of enduring love and mutual support which has spanned nearly 60 years.
At the age of 21, after he had completed his training, he was called up for National Service.He was in one of the final batches to be called up before it was abolished.He joined the army and was drafted into to pay corp. Apparently he was a good marksman, and won several trophies in shooting competitions. He was then posted to Africa. Bob had a very keen sense of humour which I am sure served him well. He tells me the story that when they sailed to Africa, having passed through the Suez Canal at night, they docked in Egypt. Here the whole ship was put under arrest because the lads had been dropping beer bottles over the side on to the boats of locals who had surrounded the ship trying selling their wares. Unfortunately, some bottles went straight through the bottom of the boats and sunk them.
They then proceeded on to Aden and then to Kenya were Bob was to be stationed. He did complain that he had to work all the way to Kenya because even on board ship the army has to be paid.
Clearly Bob stood out from the crowd because his Commanding Officer, who apparently owned a farm in Kenya, asked him to go and run it for him. This Bob did for the rest of his time in Kenya. He often used to talk about his experiences which I think he quite enjoyed. About 20 years ago Bob and Ann went to Mombasa for a holiday and a trip down memory lane.
When Bob was in Kenya he was introduced to Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs. Bob and Ann kept Ridgebacks for many years at home. He was very fond of his dogs.Whilst Bob clearly made the best of his time in Kenya, he very much missed Ann and they used to write to each other every day.
A couple of years after he returned home from the army they married, but they chose to do so in January, at a time when parts of the north country were completely cut off by snow. I am told it was touch and go before the wedding whether they would be able to get through to the Church! Some of his family from the Borders failed to make the journey altogether because of the weather. Bob told me that he was also in trouble with his mother on his wedding day – He didn’t feel too well, something to do with the Stag party the night before.
After they were married, Bob went to work for Laings in Manchester.It was here when they were living in the Manchester area that Lyndsay was born.After only a few years, however, Bob got a job at Jelsons and moved down to Leicestershire. First of all they lived briefly in Mountsorrel where he told me they were choked every Monday morning when they started up the Tarmacadam plant, but then they settled in Quorn.
It was then that he joined Leicester St Martins Round Table and it was here that I met him over 40 years ago. Bob was an enthusiastic member, entering wholeheartedly into the fellowship of Table and forging many strong friendships which have lasted throughout the years and are witnessed by the strong support here today. After leaving Round Table at the age of 40, which you did in those days, he moved on to 41 Club where he served a year as chairman.
Soon after we met, the family moved to Thrussington. I remember those fantastic evenings we enjoyed when Bob arranged the Summer Balls in a Marquee in his field. I believe the fundraising was for the restoration of the local church. I’ve still got the CD player I won on one occasion.
Probably Bob’s greatest love after his family was his sport. In his younger days he played both Rugby and Cricket. In later life he played squash and badminton. I am told that he was a very good squash player and I can confirm that he was good at badminton, I usually came second.
He had a season ticket at Leicester Tigers for several years. When the influence of television took over he gave it up because he didn’t want to go to matches after work on a Friday evening or even at 8 o’clock on a Sunday night. However, one of his great pastimes was to enjoy relaxing at home with his Bacardi and Coke in front of the television watching sport, particularly Rugby.
Bob also loved his cricket.Bob was a member at Trent Bridge, joining the Executive Suite from its inception. He was something of a traditionalist. He much preferred the four day game played in whites, or alternatively he did enjoy the 40 and 50 over matches. He never really took to the 20-20 game, especially when played in the evening, except as he said “as a good television entertainment”. He had a number of very good friends at cricket, whose friendship he valued greatly. A highlight of each Summer was when he travelled with a small group of his close friends to watch Nottinghamshire play one of their 4 day away matches. It may have rained on occasion, but this didn’t dampen their enthusiasm or enjoyment.
He also enjoyed his many trips to Lords. He was a member of the Cricket Memorabilia Society. Bob also had a keen interest in local cricket and was a supporter of Syston cricket club for many years.
Bob enjoyed his work. For several years he had his own successful building business in Loughborough. For the last 20 years however he has been working at Watts in Leicester developing Commercial Properties. He managed the developments through all their stages.There is no doubt, Bob had a considerable talent and was very successful in everything he undertook. He was still working 5 and a half days a week right up to his death.
Bob loved Classic cars. He used to visit the Classic Car show in Birmingham most years. He also had his own immaculate Jaguar which he cherished. Occasionally when we were going out he would turn up in it.When he did you could be sure that there was no rain in the forecast.
Bob was a loving and a very supportive family man. He was able to celebrate his Golden Wedding 3 years ago when we embarked on a very enjoyable trip on the Orient Express to the South Coast. He enjoyed travelling, especially when it was matched with fine dining.
He will of course be greatly missed by Ann and Lyndsay, but also by his many close friends. It has been a privilege to have known Bob, and have been his close friend for so many years.We have all enjoyed some very happy times together, and whilst it is very difficult at the present moment, it is particularly important that we do cherish these wonderful memories.
Ann and Lyndsay, all our love and prayers are with you, may you have the strength to support you through these sad and difficult times.
The world is a poorer place with Bob’s passing.