Much loved headteacher and top class marathon runner Robin Campbell passes away

Athletics / Mon 20th Jun 2022 at 07:49am

ROBIN Campbell who lived and worked in Harlow from 1962 has died aged 85.

He and his beloved late wife (Ruby) arrived in the then Pram Town to work as primary school teachers.

They originally lived in a flat in Radburn Close before moving into the new estate of Elmbridge in Old Harlow in 1965 (which Robin discovered being built whilst on a long run!).

Robin worked in various Harlow schools including Hare Street and the Downs before becoming Headteacher at Tany’s Dell.

He stayed there until 1974 when he moved into higher educaiton as lecturer in Education (teaching teachers!) at the then Hatfield Polytechnic (now University of Hertfordshire).

He progressed through the ranks, earning an MPhil then PhD and gaining the title of Professor, publishing many books and articles on young children’s reading.

Open photo

This was followed in later years by a series of fiction books for the Under 11s, his most memorable a fictionalised account of his childhood in war-torn London called ‘Watching for Doodlebugs’.

More ‘famously’, Robin was a great runner, finishing 1st and 2nd in the Southern and National Cross Country Champs in 1958 and posting a seriously speedy 2:20:20 for the marathon in 1964 (when the world record was just 2:14).

In the 1970s he took up orienteering and represented GB in an international competition in Bulgaria.

When he retired, he and Ruby travelled the world, visiting many countries and journeying through France and Spain (their favourite countries) in their two VW Campervans.

More recently he became a Parkrun Tourist, visiting 246 different events and running 342 in total, including 40 at Harlow.

He leaves behind his son, Robert, and daughter, Mary, and five grandchildren, all of whom he doted on (as well as occasionally used for academic research into reading).

Between the seven of them they have already acquired 11 degrees (with two still yet to reach University-age), a tribute to his example, support and guidance.

Dad himself left school at 16 with just a couple of O Levels and acquired his 3 degrees all part-time through the Open University. He lived a great and fulfilling life and goes peacefully to join his beloved wife, Ruby, and late son, Bruce (who died as an infant). RIP – Run in Peace, Robin.

By Robert Campbell

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6 Comments for Much loved headteacher and top class marathon runner Robin Campbell passes away:

James Leppard
2022-06-20 09:20:16

Very fond memories of him as my form teacher in my final year at The Downs. He was a truly inspiring teacher and excellent person. RIP

Yasmin Gregory
2022-06-20 10:11:05

We are so sorry to read this but not unexpected knowing how much he loved his beautiful wife Ruby. I shared some Parkruns with Robin and he was an absolute delightful man waving to ‘that beautiful lady’ - dear Ruby- who had come to meet him at the Finish Line. Our condolences are with the family.

Dr Lyn Trodd
2022-06-22 06:46:24

Professor Campbell was a wonderful person and academic. I am now Dean of the School of Education at UH but when I joined the University some years ago Robin gave some truly inspirational lectures about learning to read. One of the things that impressed me was Robin was not an academic snob. Even though he was a revered and respected Professor he was interested in talking with and to all. I remember the excitement of a large group of Foundation Degree students who came in from the Herts Colleges for a lecture by a “real professor” (Robin). They gave him a standing ovation at the end of the lecture. I’m very sorry to hear the news of his passing away. However his was a life well lived and had a real impact on others.

Christine Oakes
2022-06-22 10:09:23

Christine Thomas As a young lecturer at Wall Hall joining 1988 , I went on to deliver the P.E component of the Primary PGCE and B.Ed. courses Robin was always a quiet reassuring figure , totally inspirational . Although he was a highly esteemed Academic he was always so approachable . A gracious man who inspired generations of teachers and children.

John Simmonds
2022-09-27 11:30:35

Very sad to hear of the passing of Robin. My memories of Robin go back to the 1950's and running for the Essex Beagles and all the training sessions around Mayesbrook Park, Barking. My last memory of Robin was him nipping past me just before the finish line at the 1982 London Marathon (I forgive you Robin). A fanatical runner in Junior, Senior and Veteran athletics a great guy. R.I.P

Keith Butler
2022-09-28 15:50:18

A lovely guy and osbessive I was a member of the athletics club and training with him in the dark on playing field of South East Essex Technical college.it was the only grass we could find at night that was safe to run on.Ww ran up one side 250-400 meters and down the other with a short jog in between.I remember doing about 30 but he jus carried on and on

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