Bringing Chess to Visually Impaired People

The Gazette - November 2018

Sponsored by Geoff Patching
Edited by Julie Leonard
The views expressed in the Gazette do not necessarily reflect the policies or views of the BCA, nor those of the editor.

RIP Robin Edward Brown 5th June 1935 – 2nd August 2018

Two friends from schooldays have teamed up to put together this piece in memory of their pal.

Stan Lovell writes:

Bob, as he was probably most often known, enjoyed several other nicknames. During his school days, it was Rob, later, that became Bob, still later, there was Bobby and Digger and, my wife, Jan, and some others sometimes called him Bobbykins. For the purpose of these thoughts I will refer to him as Bob.

Bob's childhood was spent in Dorset, for much of the time, with his Aunt Elsie and Uncle Arthur, who were landlord and landlady of the Horns Inn, a country pub at the tiny hamlet of Parley Cross.

In 1946 Bob became a boarder at the Royal School for the Blind, in Bristol, where I first met him. Later, we became friends when we were both students in the school Piano Tuning department. Upon leaving Bristol, Bob worked for a while trying to build up a piano tuning practice in the rural area of Dorset where he lived. Things were not easy for piano tuners in the 1950's, particularly in rural areas, and Bob found ways to augment his income with a variety of odd jobs, including, grave digging, hence the nickname, Digger, given to him by his son-in-law, Kendon.

Shortly after leaving the school in Bristol, Bob attended a school reunion, where he met another ex pupil, Christine Johnson. They formed a friendship, and it was not long before Bob was making regular trips to Cheltenham, where Chris was living. In 1959 they married and moved into a house just around the corner from where I was living. For the next ten years we were regularly in each other’s company.

Bob was an industrious, resourceful person. When he found the travelling from Cheltenham to Woodchester, near Stroud, where he had obtained employment in the Bentley Piano Company, took up too much time, and took too much from the modest wages the company paid, he found himself a job in Cheltenham Town Hall. Here, he saved all the travelling expenses by cycling to work. Later, he was employed by Smith's Industries, a company just outside of Cheltenham.

Bob was a man of many skills. He made many cane trays, baskets and stools. There are few of his friends who do not have an example of this work in their home. He was also handy at a variety of tasks, including: DIY, gardening, laying garden paths and painting and decorating. The strength of Bob's home brewed beer was legendary, as I can testify, to my shame!

He was generous with his time, and if anyone needed a helping hand, they knew where to turn.

Bob learned to play chess at the school in Bristol. He never aspired to great heights, but, as in other leisure pursuits, such as playing cards or dominoes, for Bob, it was just a game to be enjoyed, but, never to be analysed!

Bob and Chris greatly enjoyed membership of the BCA, they particularly enjoyed the social events, such as: the Chairman's Cup, as it is now known. They also greatly enjoyed the Windermere Chess Theme Breaks, run by Peter and Celia Gibbs.

I shall miss Bob as a good generous friend, with a wicked sense of humour. Always ready with a quick quip, a witty catch phrase, or a joke just around the corner.

Colin Chambers writes:

When Barbara and I moved to Cheltenham in 1989, we knew very little about the town and the people who lived there. I vaguely remembered Bob from my school days in Bristol in the mid 1950’s. Fortunately, Stan Lovell introduced us to Chris and Bob Brown. We became very good friends and socialised regularly. Bob was a tremendous help to us in finding our way around the unfamiliar town of Cheltenham. As a small thank you, we gave Chris and Bob a year’s membership of the Braille Chess Association. They became regular attendees at BCA tournaments and both loved the Windermere Chess Theme Break. Ironically, our last holiday at The Lauriston Hotel, Weston-super-Mare, in April this year included the following people; Chris and Bob’s daughter Penny and her husband Kendon, Stan Lovell and, of course, Bobby Brown.

Stan mentioned Bob's skills with home brew and manufacturing a variety of items. I often joked with Bob about trying to find the key to his cellar but I never succeeded. Also, my chess pieces currently live in a box especially made by Bob.

Bob's funeral was held on Friday, 24th August, in Cheltenham and was extremely well attended. A Civil Celebrant gave an excellent speech outlining Bob's life and interests. These centred around the BCA and Liverpool Football Club. The BCA was represented by Mat Williams, Stan Lovell, Julie and Oliver Leonard, and Barbara and Colin Chambers. Donations went to the BCA.

Rest in peace Bob.

Editor’s Note: Sincere condolences to all the family. I have a cane tray that Bob made and I treasure it.