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Scholars Mews, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire

A Revved Up Reunion

Robert, known as Bob to his friends, lives at Scholars Mews Care Home in Stratford-upon-Avon. Following a surprising coincidence, Robert’s exciting career has led to an unexpected reunion!

During his career, Robert made quite a name for himself working for the Vandervell team on the famous Vanwall F1 racing car, which became the first British company to win the F1 Constructors’ Championship in 1958. He also worked with one of the greatest British racing drivers; Stirling Moss. He was also responsible for the test and development of the engine bearings of hundreds of different global vehicle engines.

Gail, our hardworking Recreation and Leisure Co-ordinator at Scholars Mews, often spends time with Robert, who lives with dementia. Gail noticed that “Robert’s face lights up when he hears the roar of the engine and there is a sparkle in his eye”, so the two often watch videos of famous car races on YouTube.

Whilst talking to another visitor, Gail mentioned some of Robert’s interesting past. As luck would have it, the visitor’s husband, Tim, had also worked with Stirling Moss and the story continued to unfurl. It turned out that Robert had been Tim’s first boss and the two hadn’t seen each other for many years now. The home soon arranged for Tim to visit Robert and to have their first reunion in over thirty years!

Through this chance encounter, Tim helped to fill in some more details about Robert’s fascinating past. The pair first met when Robert was the Research and Development Manager at GKN Vandervell Products Ltd at Maidenhead in 1969. Robert had been involved in testing two of the most globally iconic racing engines of the time; the Cosworth DFV F1 and the Porsche 917 Le Mans engines. He also led the project to build GKN 47D; a unique one off high-performance road car based on the Lotus Europa sports car, which remains a classic car of its time.

Throughout his long career in the Automotive industry, Robert was deeply involved in what we now look back on as one of the most exciting and equally frustrating times of the UK motor industry as it evolved through the industrial relations issues of the 1980s.

Gail said, “It was lovely to see Tim and Robert spending quality time together reminiscing about the good old days of motor racing and looking at old photos and racing car books”. The two now have regular visits together as they reignite their friendship.