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Tributes to much-loved Old Monmothian, Bob Blake

September 19th, 2019
Bob Blake meets HRH Prince Edward, The Earl of Wessex, at the opening of the Blake Theatre in 2005.

One of Monmouth School for Boys’ much-loved supporters, after whom a theatre in the town is named, has died peacefully at the age of 91.

Mr Bob Blake, a wonderful ambassador for the school and the town, passed away at his home in Monmouth yesterday (Wednesday 18th September).

Mr Blake’s generosity to Monmouth School for Boys is well known and widely appreciated.

With his tremendous support, the school hall was rebuilt and transformed into the state-of-the-art Blake Theatre, which opened its doors in 2005 and is shared with the Monmouth community.

He donated Chemistry, Music and CCF prizes every year at Speech Day and funded a choral scholarship in memory of Old Monmothian, Paul Langford, at Lincoln College, Oxford.

Second Master at Monmouth School for Boys, Mr Simon Dorman, fondly remembers the Old Monmothian and presented him with a cake on his 90th birthday last year.

“Mr Blake’s generosity for Monmouth School for Boys has been outstanding for many years and we are all very saddened by the news,” said Mr Dorman.

“It was always a pleasure to speak to Mr Blake and hear his warmth and affection for the school, the staff and the pupils.”

Mr Blake joined Monmouth School in 1938 and travelled daily from Cinderford by bus.

He won a form prize every year, largely because of his work ethic and an excellent memory.

The Captain of Rugby, Mr Blake had a particularly fond recollection of defeating Llandovery 33-0 in 1945, the school’s first game since the second year of World War II.

He also had a strong passion for cricket and enjoyed listening to choral music.

Mr Blake had the ambition of applying to University College London, but a member of staff at Monmouth, JFC Dicker, encouraged him to go to Oxford University.

Mr Blake excelled at Physics, Chemistry, Maths, English, French and History at school and he secured a place at the prestigious Lincoln College, Oxford, to read Chemistry.

Mr Blake spent two years in Winchester on National Service, where he was commissioned into the Royal Artillery and had three-and-a-half years in the Territorial Army where he taught a fellow serviceman to read and write.

After university, Mr Blake took up a position with Proctor & Gamble in the pharmaceuticals industry where he worked for 35 years until his retirement at the age of 60. He worked for them in Kent, Manchester and latterly in Essex.

Before his wife, Valerie, died in 1994, Mr Blake wanted to set up a scholarship for students from the Forest of Dean heading to Oxford.

His wife advised him to ask Lincoln College what they needed and, at that time, the College Chapel required some investment.

Mr Blake made an extremely generous donation and the chapel at Lincoln College has a memorial for his wife in recognition of this gift.

Similarly, a glass memorial is dedicated to Mr Blake’s wife in Monmouth School for Boys’ Chapel.

His advice to young Old Monmothians is “share your knowledge and your kindness and make the most of every opportunity. Talk to people – give them your time – they will respond to you.”

Fond of quoting Chaucer, Mr Blake’s memory and knowledge remained intact until his final days.

Last of the Blake Boys, Mr Blake was pre-deceased by his wife, Valerie, his twin sister, Margaret, older brothers Peter and Stanley, also an Old Monmothian, and niece, Claire.

Mr Blake has four nieces and two nephews and, in his final years, was looked after by his friend and carer, Mr Stephen Protheroe.

A memorial service for Mr Blake is taking place on Friday 11th October at 2pm in Monmouth School for Boys’ Chapel.

The service will be followed by refreshments at the Hitchcock Pavilion.

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