Fitzwilliam Golf Society

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A Tribute to Bob Barltrop 1954 - 2024

Bob Barltrop, 1 June 1954 – 18 February 2024

Fitzwilliam College Matriculation 1973

Bob Barltrop sadly passed away at home on 18 February after a brave fight against oesophageal cancer.

He played a key role in setting up Fitzwilliam Golf Society in 2009. Bob was our Treasurer from the outset and attended almost all of our fixtures until recently. Through his personality and hard work, Bob played a very large part in building the Society to what it is today.

His greatest attributes were his sociability and good humour. He had the ability to talk easily with anyone. He had a friendly and welcoming presence at Fitz Golf meetings. He was a pleasure to play golf with – never taking things too seriously. With his wide range of interests and natural intelligence, Bob was always good company, full of life and with a fine sense of humour. You always knew he was around. If you ever needed to gain people’s attention in a noisy room, he was your man. Everyone remembered Bob.

As Treasurer, he was well organised, always on top of all the many payments that came in as our fixture list expanded. He had a prompt and cheery acknowledgment for all members paying their dues – especially if you got your maths right! He was diligent and conscientious too. One year, after checking and rechecking, the Society books wouldn’t quite balance and he insisted, against strong protests, on making good the deficit out of his own pocket. He insisted that he was personally responsible for any discrepancy. As a Committee member, he could always be relied upon to give his well-considered opinion – if we had some policy matter to resolve.

Bob never claimed to be a top golfer but he had the knack of playing well at important times. Who will forget his extraordinary 48 points at Cambridge Meridian in the 2013 Fitz Open to become Fitz Champion Golfer?  He was astonished at his success. Two years later at the same venue, clearly his lucky course, he repeated the victory – this time with a mere 41 points. Bob is one of only two people to win the Fitz Open twice.

As recently as October 2021 he was Tour Champion scoring 35 points at Hunstanton in adverse conditions. 24 of those points came in the first half – with the wind behind him! For once, he was rather lost for words when he received the Tour Trophy – and modestly surprised at his achievement.

As might be expected of an ex-rugby player, used to touring, Bob was especially good value when we were away on Tour. Bob often turned up in his beloved Jag sports car, usually in plenty of time, well before the organiser. And he was very helpful in getting things sorted out in advance of play, with the Golf Clubs. On the course, at the bar, over the meals or whilst on some of our downtime activities, Bob was always great fun to be with. He was never slow to show his appreciation and as a natural leader, would usually be the one to give the vote of thanks at the conclusion of the Tours.

For many years, he was Match Organiser for the Fitz teams at Harpenden Mencap Day. They were always very sociable days and evenings with Bob at our helm. Fitz teams even won a couple of times. He and Hilary often kindly put Fitz golfers up overnight as they lived very close by.

He dealt with his illness stoically and was determined to make the most of things. “I’ve just got to get on with it”, he said. Despite his failing health and unpleasant cancer treatment, Bob was always very pragmatic, non-complaining and didn’t want a fuss made of him.

The 2023 Season Closer at Blackmoor was Bob’s final Fitz GS event. He wanted to play despite the tiredness brought on by his condition and treatment. Partnering the Secretary, he had a good round and we came a close second, pipped by a single point. So, he finished on a high – and he took his prize in beer – which he always preferred.

Many of us knew him from his days at College through to his untimely death. During all that time, Bob was a larger than life character, confident and assured – yet warm and humble.  He enjoyed life, he enjoyed being with his friends, golfing and otherwise – and we all enjoyed his company.  He was one of a kind and we will miss him.

Colin Dunkerley, Secretary and Friend

Mike Hamment, President and Friend

 

Contributions from Fitwilliam Golf Society Members below:

Graham May writes: I encountered Bob on my first day at college in 1973, when I assumed he was a mature student. He possessed such maturity, presence and character compared to the rest of us callow youths. We gelled instantly as Manchester lads and United fans.

We ‘shared’ a 3-year law degree, which we later recalled was more of a ‘Joint Honours Degree’. This was a joint effort in that we travelled on his moped to those lectures we chose to attend. Plus, we divided up the notetaking, although this proved to my detriment. Using my notes for Corporate Law, Bob achieved a 1st in that subject, whilst using his notes I scored a 2:2 in Family Law (probably why I practised corporate law for 45 years!).

Other sharing activities were my college room, which I vacated over frequent weekends in exchange for delicious flapjack supplies when Hilary was down. Post uni in London in the early 80’s I was able to continue the sharing at my Chiswick flat (for Fullers not flapjacks) as Bob travelled down Monday to Friday in his early De Beer days. Bob and Hilary’s generous return hospitality (BBQ king and fine dining queen respectively) over the years in Antwerp and Harpenden meant they were always in credit.

My memories of Bob will always include sharing space in the front rows of the scrum and multiple bars, plus winning a cup with his cricket team in Mere, Cheshire.

He was a key life force in the Fitz Golf Society, welcoming and encouraging all. Bob lifted the spirits of all around him with his personality and easy charm. I will miss him greatly.

Andrew Williams writes: Back in the late 1970’s the “Fitzbilly boys” would always retire back to the Barmy Arms after the Varsity match and then make their way into central London for a meal and a few more drinks. In those days, the match took place in mid-December. I recall on one occasion, a large group of us in high spirits and bedecked with our Fitz scarfs travelling on the tube in the early evening all loudly singing Christmas carols. Bob was of course at the centre of things, enthusiastically conducting our impromptu choir – and at the same time politely trying to encourage a wider array of very bewildered passengers (who had the misfortune to be in the same carriage) to join in and sing along. Perhaps surprisingly he had some considerable success – in that special way that Bob had about him to engender warmth and conviviality. A very special friend and he will be sadly missed.

John Uwins writes: An alternate version of Mary Hopkin’s hit song:

Those were the days, my friend

We thought they’d never end

Bob, you were such fun and always full of joy

We led the life we choose

Thru’ study, sport and booze

And you were just, the greatest Billy boy

Matthew Harman writes: I will always have happy memories when I think of Bob, particularly memories of our French trips which really will not be the same without him. We’ve lost a good ‘un.

Michael Hall writes: I met Bob when I joined the Fitz Golf Society. He was warm and welcoming, down to earth with a great sense of humour. I soon discovered that modesty was another of his qualities when in 2013 I scored 41 points in the Fitz Open and had fleeting thoughts of victory. When we had finished, but before the results were announced I asked Bob how he had played, and without telling me his score he said he had played quite well. Something of an understatement from a man who had scored 48 points and was the runaway winner! He will be greatly missed.

Gerry Tucker writes: I first met Bob in the bar at Fitzwilliam College, a larger than life character who you could never forget – who led the singing and the bar games. Bob made an impression which will never leave me. Bob was always welcoming and encouraging. How else would this ‘non-golfer’ have become a part of a golf society?

Me to Bob, “I don’t play golf!”. Bob to me “Come along anyway Gerry, you will know everyone here, and one day we’ll get you on the golf course” Bob, you will be missed!

Nigel Hall writes: Bob was a year ahead of me at Fitz but as a fellow rugby player (and front row) we shared many a Thursday night in the College Bar. The black and white picture of him leading the carol singing encapsulates my memories of him – larger than life, a true bon viveur and a character. I recently unearthed another of Bob, beer in hand on a bench on the boundary at Fenners for the Cuppers Cricket Final in 1976. Later, in the early days of the Golf Society when I still played golf, I well remember the post-game hospitality at Harpenden. And the less said about Varsity Match days the better! We have lost one of life’s great people. RIP.

Matthew Hignell writes: Bob was a great friend to me through the Fitzwilliam Golf Society and he always looked after me on our many trips.  He was generally at the centre of the loudest laughter and the funniest stories and could be relied upon to be first to the bar.  We will miss him.

Bob Barltrop at Fitzwilliam College
Bob Barltrop 2015 Fitz Champion Golfer
Bob Barltrop putting at Kington, May 2018
Bob Barltrop, Robin Winckless and Stuart Lester. At Harpenden Mencap Day, June 2023
Bob presents Mike H with a trophy for completing the climbing of 282 Scottish Munros. Bob had the trophy made especially for Mike.
Bob Barltrop 2013 Fitz Champion Golfer following victory at Cambridge Meridian with 48 points
Bob Barltrop, Matt Hignell and Henry Croft-Baker
In Fitzwilliam Bar September 2018
Bob Barltrop leading the singing in Fitzwilliam Bar 1975
At Fen Ditton 1976

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