Remembering Neville Robson

Words by Sue Geary, Skipper

Neville was a legend and a much-loved member of our sailing family.

He first sailed with us as voyage crew in September 2014, on an adult cruise from London to Portsmouth after the Tall Ships Race and Greenwich Festival of the Sea.

It was a memorable voyage for me because it was the last week of my first stint as a freelance skipper, having given up my teaching job.

We took part in a ‘parade of sail’ down the Thames and visited Boulogne and Dieppe before crossing the channel back to Portsmouth. We had a fantastic sail with a great crew, several of whom went on to become part of the regular sailing staff.

Neville had extensive experience as a dinghy instructor, working with young people at his local sailing club. He had the type of personality that is always a pleasure to have onboard a boat; that mixture of good humour, generosity of spirit and an unquenchable enthusiasm for learning and new experiences that helps everyone to bond and feel like they are part of the team.

I was very keen to recruit Neville as a volunteer but at the time he was fully committed to his dinghy sailing and boat-share partners and initially he turned me down.

Fortunately for all of us at Tall Ships Youth Trust, he later reconsidered and I received a phone call from Sarah Mardlin (in the office) to say that “a Neville Robson had called to say that he was interested in volunteering and what did I think?” I said: “grab him with both hands and don’t let him go!”

Neville will be remembered fondly by all. Not just for the cooked breakfasts that he would make for the sailing team on the first morning, and the cakes that he always bought from Patisserie Valerie at the voyage end. But also, for all he gave so generously to the young people and his sailing family.


Memories from our Trustee, Emma Bradshaw  

Emma is also Executive Principal at Alternative Learning Trust - The Limes College in Sutton.

Neville pulling himself up the spinnaker pole to be an encouragement to the children that if ‘this old man can do it you can do it’.

Neville being shocked at the behaviour of the children when we sailed with him for the first time. But being determined to get alongside them and challenge and teach them in his gentle, caring way. Building relationships and supporting particularly, the vulnerable and marginalised. He had a real impression on them and us and he will be sorely missed. He was a legend and absolutely one of the best watch leaders we have ever sailed with. 

On an evening off he would come to the pub with us. He would always be interested in the work we did with vulnerable children; he was funny and always had a smile on his face. He was very good company and really at ease with himself and others. 

Neville was wise and very knowledgeable, and he shared that with us generously and gently. Very humble and always willing to learn.

He had a servant heart and shared a love of good, strong coffee. When getting up early in the morning he always had a brew on and kept our caffeine levels up when long nights had left us weary. 

Neville will be sorely missed by us. I am sure he is at peace sailing the seas in heaven.

All of us at The Limes College pass on our thoughts and love to his family. He changed many lives and in lots of ways lives on in all those he touched. Certainly, included in this are lots of our staff and children he sailed with. We missed him last week (w/c 28/6) on our first residential voyage of 2021.


Share your memories of Neville

To share your memories of Neville please email them to: [email protected]