A Tribute to Frank Robinson
Remembered by David Tappin and Kevin Ross
Frank died peacefully at the Forest Holme Hospice in the early hours of Monday December 7th, his wife Judy was at his side.
Frank has been a member of the Wimborne Model Aero Club (WMAC) twice, he joined a year or two after the formation of the club and quickly became a leading light, his knowledge of all things mechanical made him a popular member of the training team both as an instructor and general problem solver in the days when the vagaries of glow plug engines were a mystery to most.
In 1977, the year of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, Frank was closely involved in the club’s attempt to create a record for distance flown round a closed circuit and on May 21st Frank drove a pick-up containing the pilots and BMFA observer while circulating the roads of East Dorset for a record 109 miles. The model used, The Jubilee Flyer, was later put to good use through Frank’s friendship with members of the committee who ran the Great Dorset Steam Fair or Stourpaine Steam Rally, as it was called in those days. He facilitated the WMAC’s appearance at the event for three successive years which was an important opportunity for fund raising with static and flying displays including ‘commercial’ banner towing using the Jubilee Flyer as a tug.
Frank left the club soon after to renew his interest in steam power, and turned his hobby into a successful business scratch building a number of narrow gauge locomotives and associated rolling stock to order, frequently also operating them for their owners. He also carried out full restoration of a couple of steamships, one in Norway, where his previous employment in the engine rooms of the Merchant Navy earned him his certificate as a Marine Engineer.
He ended up his maritime career keeping the engines running smoothly on the car ferries plying the route between Weymouth and the Channel Islands. He used to say that navigators were unnecessary on that route as the captain simply followed the floating beer cans. While on that tour of duty Frank joined the Jersey Model Aero Club and organised several very successful exchange trips between the two clubs.
Frank joined the RAF for his National Service and had fond memories of the time when his father was an RAF CFI on Piston Provosts. The large scale Provost which he was building in honour of his father stands unfinished in his splendid workshop with a couple of other projects which, right up to the end, he was determined to complete.
It was his determination to fully serve the club after he rejoined a couple of years ago which kept him going through his illness, and I believe that I speak for all of us who were inspired by his indomitable spirit. Our brilliant runway will remain his legacy.
It was a privilege to have been his friend.
by David Tappin
To say Frank had a full life is such an understatement and I doubt there are many in this world who could come close to matching his achievements. Many of you know that since he rejoined WMAC about 2 years ago, I become very close to Frank, made very easy through our common interests in his Marine and my Aviation professions.
His enthusiasm for life to the end astonished the medical professions who discovered that rather than needing a home visit he had opted for a trip up to Cashmoor to mow the grass !!
I am grateful to have known him and would like to thank his wife Judy for allowing me to join her at his bedside for a few hours in his final evening in the world. It was gratifying that he did not appear to be suffering, thanks to the wonderful nursing staff at Forest Holme Hospice.
I will miss him very much.
by Kevin Ross
- Frank in the middle of a group of members
- The Jubilee Flyer
- Frank the Driver scans