Bob Davidson, 30th July 1931 – 28th March 2024

Bob Davidson runningBob joined the club in 1982, and was thus almost a Founder Member. He was created a Life Member in 2007 for “25 years of service to club in many roles, and representing the club at the highest level in international vets competitions”. His roles included the elected – Committee member, and the self-appointed – Bagman for the Ladies Cross Country Team!

Previously a footballer, Bob took part in all athletic disciplines, road running (including marathons), cross country and track and field, and was fully immersed in the social side of the club. He took part in all the big relays, Welsh Castles, Green Belt, Round Norfolk and London to Brighton, and for many years was a regular in Lanzarote.

He completed 158 handicaps between 1983 and 2011, coming second in the Tom Hogshead in 1983 and winning races in August 1991, September 1994 and May 2006.  He held age group records as an M50, M70, M75 and M80.  Only Charles Doxat has run faster than Bob in the last three age groups. 

On the track, Bob’s preference was for longer distances and he was a keen supporter of British Masters competitions, as well as competing regularly all over the world in European and World Masters competitions.  He held the club M70 records for the 5,000m and 10,000m from 2002 until 2023.  They were set in the European Masters Championships in Potsdam, Germany, the times being 22:47:80 and 46:55:14 respectively. Bob also held the club’s M70 1-mile record between 2002 and 2023, with a time of 6:52:0 (best of 5:34 set in 1986).

Bob Davidson at a partyAmazingly, Bob recovered from two major setbacks. In 2002, during a Wednesday night club run in Hyde Park, he was badly injured when someone on a bike rode into him from behind. Both quadricep tendons were severed. He was back running in 10 months, having been helped with rehab by Serpie therapist Graeme Staddon. Then, in 2007, whilst warming up for the handicap, he had a cardiac episode, and was fitted with a pacemaker. Once again, he bounced back quickly, and continued to run until late 2011, when he sadly lost his sight.

But above all, Bob was a social animal. He went to all the Christmas, Summer and any other events, including in Lanzarote and wasn’t just “there”, but was at the heart of the party! His annual duet in Lanza with the late great coach, Frank Horwill of ”Green Grow the Rushes Ho” became part of Serpie folklore. And if the club ever awarded a trophy for dancing, Bob would have won it, hands down!

 

 

Three musketeers

 

Funeral

Bob’s funeral will be held at 1.45 pm on Thursday, 18th April at Brakespear Crematorium in Ruislip. All are welcome and if you plan to go, could you please text his daughter Lyn on 07919 908157, as they need to know numbers.  The wake will be at Arens Bar, The Six Bells, Ducks Hill Road, Ruislip HA4 7TP

 

Friends share their memories:

I’d joined Serpentine sometime in 1984, but went to the New York Marathon that year on my own (too shy to join the group!) and didn’t really get to know Bob until the breakfast for overseas runners. He took me under his wing, and smuggled me onto the Serpie bus to the start the following day! Friends ever since! Bob Davidson and team

A group of us used to do long Sunday morning runs, through Hampstead Heath, and out towards Totteridge, finishing with a brunch at someone’s home. On a particularly icy morning, Pauline Rich and I were running with Bob, and noticed he was only wearing one glove. Naively, I offered to help him look for it. He gave me such a look!

He could  sleep anywhere. Once, when the London Marathon finished at the old County Hall on the South side of Westminster Bridge and the Serpie post-marathon pub was in the Strand, just opposite Charing Cross, we found him curled up sound asleep in one of the alcoves on Hungerford Bridge. I can’t remember what happened – we probably just let him sleep – he’d come when he was ready! Ros Young

I have wondered many times if Bob was still with us. Bloody good fella he was. I have lots of great memories with him. We did a very funny trip to Devon in my camper van. And I remember rehabbing him back from when he snapped both quads when someone ran into him. I will dig some photos out and remember him fondly. Let me know when his funeral is although I doubt I can get time off. Please pass on my best wishes to his son. He was even mistaken as my dad once – god knows what that person was drinking!!!  Graeme Staddon

It would be an understatement to say Bob was a character, I always remember him at the Christmas parties and his non stop dancing, he would put a twenty year old to shame. There was one thing about Bob and that he always made people laugh, it was never a dull moment when he was around. Phill Harris

Bob always enjoyed his visits with the club to Chateauneuf in France and was always in good form. One evening the running club Castile du Pape took us all out for a meal on the banks of the Rhone and Bob stood up and told a joke and I translated it into French … too  much of the local wine… but it was hilarious and our French friends and indeed the whole restaurant was in hysterics. I just wish I could remember the joke! Bob really endeared himself to our new French friends. Kathy Crilley

Bob Davidson with Paul Ingram and Keith Evans…he was a great contact and a great participant. Spent a lot of contacts with him when I was still running, and even after that when we met at the handicap. He had a fund of stories, as well as being a great participator in athletic events. one year, Jan was running in the Welsh castles and travelling by the bus Bob and I drove to West Wales in my Caterham and took two days about it. It was one of my really enjoyable trips with Bob participating every inch of the way. Paul Ingram

Bob was on the Committee in the early days, and Hon Sec James Godber used to produce the budget with an early spreadsheet programme called Calcstar. This would infuriate Bob, in an hilariously funny way! I’d swear James milked it for the effect! But it wasn’t that Bob didn’t understand Calcstar – he probably didn’t, but then not many of us did back then. It was because, like so many craftsmen, he was an absolute whizz at mental arithmetic, and simply didn’t understand why James made such a meal of it! Ros Young

At the World Championships in Durban S.A., Bob was selected as a reserve for the 4 x 400m relay. Shortly before the race he decided that it was very unlikely that he would be called up to the team so got himself a beer and a burger……only then to get a tap on the shoulder from the Team Manager, to be told he was running!  Happily, he ran well and didn’t throw up!

On a plane going to another championship, shortly before we reached our destination Bob is seen scrabbling around under his sea, when asked what he was looking for he said ‘my teeth’. He couldn’t find them so when we got off the plane he went to lost property where they had a box full of false teeth for him to search through. Pauline and Alan Rich

Bob Davidson with Ruth JacksonI first met Bob at a race BEFORE we both joined Serpentine in the second half of 1982.   We had both entered a Sri Chimnoy 7 mile race  held in Hyde Park   ( one of my first races) in June or July that year.  We landed up running together and as we came to the finish line,  Bob, being the gentleman he was, held back and let me cross the line first!  There were lots of finish lines after that! Hilary Walker

I will always remember Bob with such joy and gratitude for the fun and laughter we shared.  There are so many memories ranging from his jokes, to dancing in the aisle when we went to see the ‘Buddy Holly Story’ and his unique running style enabling him to ‘name that tune in one’!  The one memory, however, that will always be with me is that of ‘Bagman Bob’.  Bob accompanied the ladies on numerous trips for cross country races to far flung places such as Watford and Liverpool.  He was always there to watch over the bags and the cakes and to provide unlimited support and encouragement for every single runner.  His kindness and enthusiasm will live on forever.  Nicky Rosewell 

Bob Davidson in black tieBob was a constant presence at all the cross-country runs of our ‘pack’ of eager ‘Serpie’ girls, come rain, shine, ice, snow or sleet. There he was, at the start, surrounded by a jumble of backpacks and festooned with jumpers of various colours. And, Lo: there he was again, at the finish, making sure we all got our own jumpers, before we froze to death – and with a well-deserved bottle of wine! Ann Dex and Geoffrey Phillips

My 40th birthday party was held at the impressively-named “Inns of Court and City Yeomanry Officers’ Mess Luncheon Club” in Lincoln’s Inn, for 40 of my friends, including many ‘Serpies’. Bob, of course, was invited but it clashed with one of his eye operations and he was in hospital. Indomitable, as ever, he discharged himself, against everyone’s advice, and turned up at the party looking like a diminutive Al Capone – all dinner jacket and dark glasses. His only comment: “I wouldn’t have missed this!”. (More food and wine!)

From Geoffrey: When we purchased our hotel on the Isle of Wight,  it needed a great deal of re-fitting and up-grading. It was a big job and Bob immediately offered to come and stay, to help us out. My main memory of his arrival is that his luggage consisted of a small backpack and very large black case. The case did not contain clothes but a wonderful electric hand-drill – WITH TWO BATTERIES !  At the time, I had never seen one before and Bob put it to such good use in our hotel that, ever since, I have never been without one. I owe him a great deal of thanks for much easier DIY over subsequent decades.

Bob Davidson in Lanza

In the mid 90’s a group of Serpies were at the Pool Bar at La Santa. We used to play the game where we were imitating the running actions of Serpentine Runners. The purpose of the game was to guess who you were imitating. Bob’s was an easy one and usually the first on show with his unique gait and cross body arm action, for him a very effective running style, well known to Serpies and many others who knew him.

It wouldn’t take long for everyone to quickly guess that the running action being acted out was that of Bob.

It goes without saying that Bob was truly memorable. RIP Bob, Barrie Laverick

Bob Davidson cartoon - steroidsBob and James Godber were the iconic physiques in the very early days, much parodied by talented in house cartoonist, P.Taker who kept his real identity (Steve Brooks) secret for 20 years! Bob was little and bandy, and James was….somewhat larger! Here are a couple of the cartoons that appeared in early newsletters.  Everyone knew who they were!

At a sparkling wine tasting at the tennis club, where Sudbury Court used to meet, Bob was the only person to identify the most expensive champagne – much to everyone’s surprise. How did he do it? “It was the one I liked the least, so it had to be the most expensive!!” We have so many happy memories. He was a true friend to us and we shared many a Wednesday night meal together first in our flat in Wembley and later at the house in Northolt. James Godber

I have lots of lovely memories of Bob. One that stands out is the London marathon in 2002. It was my first marathon, and I was nervous, so I was delighted to spot a Serpie vest at the start line in Blackheath, and overjoyed when I realised it was inhabited by Bob. Although he was an incredibly experienced runner, he took me under his wing and we ran together as far as Cutty Sark. It was an incredible experience. Bob didn’t have his name on his vest, but he was so well-known and so well loved that enthusiastic shouts of “Bob!” came from all directions (and not just from Serpies) as we ran, and by the time we parted company, he’d caught up, as he ran, with numerous old friends.  He was a jewel of a man. Juliet Collins

Bob Davidson cartoon - secretaryRegarding memories of Bob, I remember him as such a warm, smiley, welcoming man who loved to have fun and have a laugh and a joke.  He used to say to me ‘I knew you when you were nothing’ and then waited for my reply, which was invariably expected to be –‘ and you still know me and I’m still nothing!!’ He loved saying hello to my young nieces at the summer league and then was star dancer at our wedding party, dancing with my now grown up nieces! He was good fun on the Welsh castles relay and as for the Lanzarote trips- well I’m sure you already have well  documented comments about our memories of that! A lovely man who was so well regarded and will certainly be remembered by me with a smile. Sarah Newton

 

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