The Groundsman

November 2016

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OBITUARY 21 the Groundsman November 2016 Visit www.iog.org for more information and digital editions ob Corbin can look back on a lifetime of achievement in groundscare and horticulture. His accreditation as a founder member, Fellow and Life member of the Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) and president for ten years adds to a long list of professional accolades: • Associate of Honour, the Royal Horticultural Society • Fellow of the Institute of Horticulture, and Achievement Award • Fellow of the Linnean Society • Associate member of the Institute of Park & Recreational Administration. His lifetime spent as a gardener, traveller, lecturer, photographer, journalist, broadcaster, writer and show judge included, notably, horticultural manager at the Greater London Council. Not bad at all for a dyslexic and colour-blind Hampshire lad who started his working life aged 14 "at the bottom of the pile", working as a garden boy for two elderly spinsters in Hampshire. It was a job that set in motion a remarkable career in the world of gardening that saw him working at some of the fi nest country mansions in the UK and completing a studentship at the Royal Horticultural Society School, Wisley, plus more than three decades working in London starting with the 'reshaping' of the war-torn capital. A year after starting work for the spinsters Bob was taken on as a garden boy at a large estate employing 16 gardeners and, after a year or so, he was invited to live in the bothy (formerly the stables) of what he described as "a splendid house" with butlers, footmen, maids, cooks, chef and chauffeurs, and he shared the bothy's B Bob the bothy boy A founder member, former president and Fellow of the Institute of Groundsmanship, Bob Corbin has died aged 101. We outline his career since he began life as a garden boy living in a bothy By: Colin Hoskins A personal tribute by Derek Walker (past IOG chair and president) As a young groundsman in the 1970s, I joined what was then the London South West Branch of the National Association of Groundsmen (which subsequently became the IOG) whose chairman was Bob Corbin. Bob was a formidable gentleman, conducting every meeting with a rod of iron, but he was a true gentleman – he always raised his hat to the ladies – and he talked casually of having to deal on a daily basis with the Royal Parks, Buckingham Palace and the Windsor Polo Grounds. Bob was always there to help any member who wanted to pick his brain for the wealth of horticultural knowledge he had to offer. He played a cornerstone role in formulating the educational policy in the early years of the Association, and was instrumental in the instigation of NDT courses at Norwood Hall College (Ealing) which enabled a greater number of learners to enter the industry with a recognised qualifi cation. Indeed, this success also spurred other educational establishments to introduce NDTs. He was a member of the National Executive Committee (now the Board of Directors) and later in his role as chairman was responsible for many major decisions that helped 'form' the IOG. I was fortunate to follow him into the post of chairman when he became president; fi lling his shoes was a daunting task but he always offered me advice when needed. One thing really did come to mind when I heard the sad news of his demise. In the early days of the Windsor show, money was tight and during the show build-up period I, along with the late Dai Rees, would spend the nights on-site in sleeping bags in an old wooden hut. On one occasion it was very cold and raining hard, and we were both feeling very sorry for ourselves. Then, all of a sudden, the hut doors fl ung open and there was Bob. He told us to "pack up and stay the night at my cottage". Malt whiskey and cheese on toast has never tasted better! That was typical of Bob, a man who walked tall in his profession but he never forgot where he came from – a bothy. t

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