Geoff Roberts obituary | Drawing

My friend Geoff Roberts, who died at the age of 92, made a living as a teacher but had a vast backcountry beyond his classroom work, including as a part-time illustrator and writer.

Much of Geoff’s creative output came after his early retirement from teaching in the early 1980s – a long and successful period during which he became a writer of short stories and poems, some of which were published. in Achieve poetry magazine.

When I was working as a freelance writer for Camra, the real ale campaign, in 1998, responsible for producing Room at the Inn, a guide to bed and breakfast pubs with no budget for a photographer, all I had to do with poor quality photos sent in by the ads themselves. Almost desperate, I called on Geoff, who worked his magic providing beautiful line drawings, based on some of the photos, which really made the book.

Just months before his death, Geoff’s talent as a novelist was recognized with the publication in 2021 of his Arthurian romance novel. Sun Swordsman.

Geoff Roberts’ drawing of the Sanctuary House hotel in London for the 1999 Room at the Inn pub guide

Born in Ilford, Essex, to Hilda (née Gilpin), a housewife, and Douglas, a partner in a London paper mill, Geoff, who was an only child, went to Watford High School and, after national service, studied English at Pembroke College. Cambridge, where he met Helen Eames, who was studying at nearby Homerton College and whom he married in 1954. They both became English teachers and Geoff taught at Sandbach School in Cheshire, Northampton High School and Cedars High School in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire (where he was responsible for English), before becoming a teacher trainer at Weymouth College in Dorset.

After Geoff took early retirement, he and Helen moved to the village of Saint-Orens-Pouy-Petit in south-west France, where I and my husband, Stephen, had a vacation home. They were freezing in their poorly insulated home, but their “life was saved”, as Geoff often recalled, by the villagers, who supplied them with stumps of old vines to burn in their stove. Thus, they formed friendships with local families, especially the Plantés, which lasted until the end of his life.

Geoff delighted friends and families each Christmas with cards featuring his drawings of a local castle or other landmark, and I will always treasure the last of Christmas 2020 which depicted my own home.

He was an avid tennis player and appeared on the court regularly well into his 80s. He was also a huge rugby fan, and his friends were taught not to show up when a big game was on TV. Watching sports helped him through increasingly regular periods in hospital during his later years.

He is survived by Helen, their son Steve and two grandchildren Sophie and Aidan. Another son, Andy, died of a hit-and-run in London in 2005; a circumstance to which Geoff never really reconciled.