The following speech was made by Duncan Peet, a family friend, at Robbie’s funeral service on November 29, 2001.
My name is Duncan Peet. I have been a friend of the family for a number of years. I’ve known Robbie since he was very small & we had common interests in cycling & trains.
Everything that he did he did with great enthusiasm & had enormous fun doing it. A few pictures spring to mind which I hope convey something of him & his character.
A very cold, snowy New Year at Whitmuir Hall near Selkirk & Robbie, aged about 18 months, wrapped in about 12 layers of clothes squealing in delight as he ran about the garden trying to understand how to stand up in deep, soft, powder snow & what was this stuff anyway.
A cycling festival at Leicester where he spent a lot of time in a child seat on the back of my bike.
Speed meant everything to him
Whoops of delight going downhill fast & when I was struggling slowly uphill, 2 small hands, usually sticky from a lollipop, would be trying to push me off the saddle `to help’.
Some time about then, when he was 2 or 2 & a half, he really got bitten by the train bug and he passed it on as well. To my knowledge Robbie was responsible for at least 4 grown men, me included, & 1 woman getting far too serious about trains, trainspotting & model railways for our own good.
Derek built the layout & Isabella turned out to be an extremely good engine mechanic. If you went round to Eskview Terrace he would drag you to view the latest addition to the layout in his bedroom or to watch the latest steam video. In doing so you had to step carefully over another layout that had been built by Robbie across the floor of the sitting room or the hall or both.
The trains even crossed over to the cycling.
With his dad & Duncan on the tandem, they formed a formidable team, Duncan at the back, as the fireman, usually asleep. Robbie was the engineer in the middle, sound effects and all, & at the front, Derek working hard, was the steam engine in more ways than one. As we went along Robbie would lean out snore to see the road ahead and check the signals were clear, you would hear the engine sound `Sit straight!’ This invariably brought a mischievous smile & some more chuffing noises.
Later when he was 4, at a cycle festival in Beverley in Yorkshire, when he had graduated to his own bike with stabilisers, he was watching some other children taking part in a proficiency test, you could see his brain at work. He wanted to join in, so the stabilisers had to come off. So they did. In less than 20 minutes he was off, careering about the campsite to huge fun for himself & potential danger to anyone or anything else within a hundred yards.
This year in May, Robbie & I escaped for a day. He was having a better spell so off we went, on the train, to Linlithgow & Bo’ness. We visited Linlithgow Palace to start with. A whirlwind tour in his style. Up & down all the stairs & into every room. I could barely keep up. The topmost point of the Palace is St. Margaret’s Bower 120 feet up. By the time I got there Robbie was hanging over the barrier pointing out how far it was down.
From there we went on to the Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway & thoroughly examined everything we were allowed to & a few we weren’t supposed to. We went up to Birkhill on a steam train & came back on a Diesel. Robbie, being a steam enthusiast, did agree afterwards that diesels were OK. At the end of the day we both agreed it had been great fun.
Which is how I & I am sure, you, remember him, great fun.