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Robert Chisholm (1922-2013)

Bob's son David has written the following article about his father

My father Robert (Bob) Bruce Chisholm died earlier this year aged 90. Born in Walworth south London in 1922, the second oldest of six children, his family moved to Dagenham when he was still small. Although none of his family had lived in Scotland for several generations he was very proud of his ancestry, and especially the fact that his great grandfather had been a woodcarver and had worked on Holyrood Palace. When asked how our branch of the clan had become established in the south of England he liked to joke that his grandfather had come down to London, opened a sweetshop, and drank himself to death on the profits.

Leaving school at 15 he started work as an office boy on the Yorkshire Post in Fleet Street. One afternoon, desperate to get some lunch in a nearby café, he ran out into Ludgate Circus and was knocked down by a bus turning left into Fleet Street from Blackfriars Bridge. Traffic lights had only recently been installed and it was assumed that vehicles had the right of way when turning. In the subsequent legal action the lower courts upheld this view but the House of Lords disagreed and Chisholm v London Transport became the legal precedent that protected pedestrians crossing at traffic lights until the introduction of the "green man" decades later - an act of generosity that cost him four months in St Bartholomew's Hospital.

Scouting was a major influence in his teenage years and remained so throughout his life. After the outbreak of war he enlisted in the Essex Regiment and under the misapprehension that they used horses he transferred to the Indian Army where he saw active service in Burma as an officer in the Rajputana Rifles. Returning to England in 1946 he married my mother, Gloria, who he had met at the church youth club before the war, and began his career in local newspapers at the Dagenham Post. Once my brother and I had left home he took the opportunity to retire from local newspapers and he and my mother moved into a small cottage near Braintree in north Essex where he was able to pursue a second career as a landscape gardener.

Unable to turn his back completely on his old life he became co-publisher and owner of Essex Countryside magazine where he used his extensive knowledge of the county to contribute a monthly 'walk'. He was particularly proud of having devised a walking route from his childhood home in Dagenham across Essex to the coast that avoided all roads.

As a small child in the 1950's I remember watching Calcutta Cup matches with my father on our black and white TV and it seeming perfectly natural that we should support Scotland, especially a side that included my namesake David Chisholm, later described as the 'best fly-half that Scotland ever had'. But it wasn't only an interest in Scotland's sporting prowess that he instilled in us but also an appreciation of its history and culture and the majesty of its mountains and glens. Naturally he was particularly fond of the area around Affric. He was a very keen walker and on two occasions, when already in his 70s, he walked the path from Morvich to Cannich that requires an overnight stay in Britain's most remote youth hostel at Alltbeithe.

It was in the 1970s that Bob enrolled our family in the Clan Chisholm Society but it was some 25 years later that I met and married my wife Kay and purchased a derelict farm and 12 Ha of hillside in Fife, becoming the first in our family for more than a hundred years to actually live in Scotland. It had been a long-held dream of his to build his own home and live off the land and he was full of ideas for what types of trees we should plant, what kind of sheep and cattle we should buy. Our wedding in 2007 in a marquee in one of our fields provided an opportunity to bring our family together in Scotland for the first time. All five of my father's siblings were able to join us including his older sister Joan who had emigrated to the United States in 1946.

He and my mother attended clan gatherings when they were able to. In 2009, although dad was in poor health, Kay and I were able to accompany my parents to the Saturday evening dinner that was part of the Borders gathering in Melrose, along with my brother Martin and his partner Trisha. Bob's brother Alan and his wife Jean also attended. Dad was still well enough to make one final visit to Scotland in 2010 and was able to see the progress we had made with our restoration project.

His funeral took place at the end of January and a piper walked ahead of the hearse on the short journey from my parent's cottage to Rayne Parish Church, and played again at the grave-side. Two tracks from the final CD in Duncan Chisholm's Strathglass Trilogy, Affric, played at the beginning and end of the service provided an opportunity to reflect on Bob's life and achievements.

In the Old School Room afterwards we toasted his memory in the traditional way, malt whisky from a Quaich!