Robin Howles

Robin, who died on 31st March after a short illness at the age of 80, hailed from County Durham. He sang as a chorister at Durham Cathedral followed by secondary education at Newcastle Royal Grammar School. A First Class Honours in Classics at the University of St Andrews preceded a career in education leading to a local authority position as Senior Education Officer.

Robin first worshipped at All Saints’ Church in 1975. He was elected churchwarden in 1987, a position which he filled with skill and dignity for 18 years. He was also conscientious in ensuring the maintenance of our parish church and its surroundings. Ideally suited to the role and deservedly popular, Robin went about his church related tasks with quiet authority, common sense and invariably much good humour. In 2002, he helped to ease the transition of Rotherfield Peppard into the newly created benefice with the parish of Kidmore End and Sonning Common. He also conducted lay-led services in an impressive manner.

Robin had a fine tenor voice and a keen interest in secular music, touring with The New London Singers and with Donald Swann. In recent years he gave chamber concerts in many local churches, including at All Saints’ Church, where his concerts with soprano, Julia Booker, and various instrumentalists raised funds for charitable causes. As well as his regular attendance in the choir of All Saints’ Church, he also sang in the Reading Minster Midweek Choir of which he was Chairman.

Membership of this choir enabled him to sing in cathedrals across the country. He also acted as Librarian for the Henley Choir Festival, ensuring the procurement of music from the Oxford Music Library.

 In retirement, Robin enjoyed working with the Sonning Common Green Gym and was its longest serving Secretary; for over 15 years organising twice weekly visits for work at about 24 sites across south Oxfordshire. He combined a sense of humour with admirable efficiency and tact. The frustration of dealing with site owners and session leaders when things had to be adjusted at the last minute seemed to just pass over him.

The fact that the Green Gym is still going strong after more than 20 years is in no small part due to Robin.