Robert WILLSON 1956-2017
It with immense sadness to report the passing of our dear friend Rob Willson. As most of you know Rob had been bravely fighting cancer for 7 months now, but he sadly lost his fight last Sunday afternoon the 16th July.
Although not entirely unexpected the timing of Robs death has come as a great shock to his wife Sarah and sons Laurence and Patrick, who have asked the club to convey their thanks for all the kind words and support that they have been receiving at this devastating time.
Rob had been a club member since 1973 when he played his first game for the club as a willowy 17 year old. Here are a few words about Rob from his Antlers back row brother in arms Robert Shapton, himself an Antlers stalwart.
"I must have been 11 or 12 years old when purely by chance I had the good fortune to meet Rob. We went to different schools but I lived in Avenue Road and he lived in the adjacent Clarence Road. One fateful day he was walking up Avenue Road to go fishing in Bushy Park and so was I, so we went together. Our fishing trips turned into turned in to a lifelong obsession culminating in numerous fishing holidays and we last went fishing on June 25th.
Then one fateful night, aged 17, we ventured to the Railway Inn for a pint of beer and a game of darts. Before we knew it, we were being groomed by some of the older boys from my school ... Anderson, Broughton, Armstrong … do you want to play rugby they asked? Teddington was not a rugby school but I succumbed to the temptation of playing for Ken Howes all conquering 4th team. Rob however, was already an accomplished player in the highly successful Hampton School 1st XV so it took another few months before I could tempt him to play for the Antlers. Once on-board he quickly established himself in the Antlers 1st XV back row and as far as I can recall was never dropped in a playing career of approximately 25 years.
Robert was fast, agile, tough, a demon tackler with great handling ability and was always in the right place at the right time! The 1st XV that he played in was one of the most successful Antler teams ever and Robert was one of the few Antlers to go on and represent Middlesex.
Off the field Robert also had a hugely successful career at Standard Life where he met the love of his life Sarah. They were married in 1994 and have two much loved sons Laurence 18, and Patrick 16. Laurence now plays for our Colts Team and Patrick is a footballer and plays for Hearts FC and is a cross country runner.
Robert retired from the rat-race in 2003 to become Teddington’s ‘Gentleman Plumber’ so that he could spend more time with his family. He was therefor able to spend most of the school holidays with his family enjoying holidays in Sarah’s native Ireland and the Scilly Isles.
So, at the age of 17 Robert became a member of the Antler Family. First as player and more recently as Crinkly. Having just reached the tender age of 60 Robert fell ill last autumn and was eventually diagnosed with Cancer last Christmas. The prognosis was bad but he battled hard to achieve an ambition to take his much-loved Sarah and their boys on Safari in South Africa as soon as their A Level / GCSE exams were finished in the summer. Despite being very very very ill he got as far as Heathrow Airport but sadly died before he could board the plane. A battler to the very end Robert passed away in the BA First Class lounge – Not good but somehow appropriate for a First-Class Husband, Father, Son, Brother and Friend to us all."
Robs The funeral will take place at 11am on Tuesday August 1st at St Mark’s Church, 17 St Mark's Rd, Teddington TW11 9DE.
The burial will be at 12 Noon, at Shacklegate Lane Cemetery TW11 8SF
The post funeral reception will be at the Teddington RFC clubhouse in Bushy Park from 12:45pm.
Robs family have requested family flowers only and if anyone wishes to make a donation to the chosen charity of Macmillan Cancer Support they can do so via the following this Justgiving page.
Thankyou and if you have any queries please contact me
Updated 11:32 - 25 Aug 2017 by Gareth Cross