God loves a cheerful giver and Bob’s generous giving and easy cheerfulness radiates from him.

When he thought about retirement, Bob’s wife Anne had other ideas and so did God, who quickly made them known.  He responded to a job ad that seemed perfect, drawing on his previous career in electrical engineering – but didn’t even get a reply. So, he applied for the position beneath that one, for Mencap, as a support worker, and got the job immediately.

“It was so rewarding, but not in the way people might think. It’s great to see milestones reached and the joy that brings.”

“It was so rewarding, but not in the way people might think. It’s great to see milestones reached and the joy that brings.” Bob worked with Mencap across three centres as a support worker, volunteer and driver before becoming a woodwork teacher for the Creative Workshop.

Although Bob is now easing more into retirement, at least from paid work, he continues to volunteer at PHAB, a support group for young and old, with or without disabilities, to make more of life together. “Working with people with impaired learning or mobility problems requires more time and a little patience but it goes a very long way.”

Community is more than a word for Bob. It made its imprint on him when he was very young and watched his mother, just after the war, work with others to build a church hall. “It was extraordinary – she worked so hard, getting builders, building materials and the funds to build this church hall at a time when such things were incredibly scarce. There wasn’t even a church.”

The impact on the village was extraordinary. “It brought the whole community together, both in the quest to build it and the subsequent use of it – just having a place to meet, celebrate and be together. People who you wouldn’t normally talk to, or who wouldn’t normally talk to you, suddenly did.”

The impact on Bob was also profound. At the grand opening, the key was lost and six-year old Bob was dispatched through a small window to let everyone in. Being the first to enter, he decided not to let other children in without his permission. One little girl wasn’t very impressed with this arrangement, but she eventually forgave Bob and grew up to became his wife!

The experience was one of the reasons why Bob worked so hard to renovate the church rooms in Lostwithiel, to make them the rich resource they are today for the town. It also impressed on him the value of getting stuck in and keeping going even when things seem impossible. As a church warden and Local Worship Leader, Bob had to manage 14 months of interregnum and, with 6 parishes, 18-20 services every week and only retired clergy or Readers to enlist. “Going to a church with no lighting, no heating, no vicar, no organist and no vicar – many a time I wanted to run!” he laughs. But not a single service was cancelled and Bob was extremely grateful for the support of his rural dean, Rev Canon David Elkington.

There are no signs that this cheerful giver will stop giving, or stop being cheerful.