John Robin England, known as Robin, sadly passed away on the 24 April 2021 in hospital, after a long illness.
He was a Scholar and School Prefect at Bradfield and made the most of his time at the College, taking part in boxing, hockey, Debating Society, the Shakespeare Society and music, contributing to the Bradfield Chronicle and performing in the Greek Play. He went on to become a parent of the College as his son Charles (F 90-95) was also a pupil.
Robin was born on 24 October 1933 in Bangkok, where his father worked in shipping. He and his elder brother spent their earliest years in the care of an ayah. Shortly before the outbreak of war his mother brought them to England, installing them in a prep school at Felixstowe before she returned to Thailand. Confined to the school for both term-time and holidays, Robin did not see his parents again until after the war, when his father was released from a Japanese internment camp. The reunited family then moved from Suffolk to Chalfont St. Peter, Bucks.
At thirteen Robin won a Scholarship to Bradfield College. He made much of his time there, taking part in the open- air theatre Greek Play, the Debating Society, the Shakespeare Society, the Bradfield Chronicle, boxing, hockey and was appointed a School Prefect.
After two years National Service in the Royal Artillery, and promotion to Lieutenant, Robin came up to Queen’s in Michaelmas Term, 1953, with an Open Scholarship. He was one of a group of nine reading Modern History. More mature than some of the others, he was friendly, easy-going and affable, yet noticeably reticent and self-contained. He took his academic work seriously, planned carefully and read in depth which soon won the favour of the exigent History Tutor, John Prestwich.
His other interests lay within College rather than the wider university. He played hockey regularly and enthusiastically for the 2ndXI. In his second year he took on organisational duties: College NUS Secretary, Secretary of the Eglesfield Players, Secretary of the Food Committee, and Secretary of Taberdars’ Room. His efficiency and drive were rewarded when he was elected President of Taberdars’ Room (the Junior Common Room) in Trinity Term 1955. He received a Benefactors’ Prize for contribution to the life of the College. Robin was well cast as Sir Toby Belch in the summer 1955 production of Twelfth Night in the Fellows’ Garden. It came as no surprise when, the following year, he was awarded a First.
Determined on a career in commerce or industry, he assiduously attended Appointments’ Board interviews, concluding that BP offered him the best prospects. He remained with BP all his working life, an oil company executive ‘downstream’ in marketing and planning, until he retired in 1990 at the age of 57. In earlier years much of his time was spent in postings abroad: Nigeria; Malta; Gibraltar; Sicily; Sardinia; latterly, he was at London Head Office. His colleagues recognised him as a canny and financially astute operator.
He met Gillian Fisher, an HR officer, at an airport on the way to a skiing holiday. She was booked at a different resort, so Robin, resourceful as ever, changed his destination to hers. They married in 1972.
In retirement Robin enjoyed the many facilities of the Hurlingham Club, played chess regularly and maintained his lifelong close interest in current affairs. He died on 24 April 2021, leaving wife Gillian, daughter Katie, son Charlie and four grandchildren.