Brilliant Bob

PUBLISHED: 08:13 27 January 2006 | UPDATED: 21:39 28 May 2010

Beating the odds: Bob Hudson as everyone remembers him, working in his March shop.

Beating the odds: Bob Hudson as everyone remembers him, working in his March shop.

Special report by MAGGIE GIBSON BOB Hudson was a remarkable, determined and fiercely independent man. He gained the respect of the community in which he lived for overcoming a disability which would have plunged many into the depths of despair. At the a

Special report

by MAGGIE GIBSON

BOB Hudson was a remarkable, determined and fiercely independent man.

He gained the respect of the community in which he lived for overcoming a disability which would have plunged many into the depths of despair.

At the age of only 24 he went blind. But far from asking for sympathy, the young man whose life had seemed so full of opportunity refused to believe the future was bleak.

Bob's favourite saying to family and friends was: "There's no such thing as can't." And in his case that was exactly right.

He went on to run his own confectioner's and tobacconist's shop in Station Road, March, and carried on with hobbies, sports and pastimes that would have challenged sighted people.

When we featured a picture of Bob in his sweet shop in our Picture This slot two weeks ago, we were unprepared for the response from readers, who all had sweet memories of the man they knew affectionately as "Blind Bob".

Dozens of readers told us how he never made a mistake handling money, how he knew where every sweet jar was on the shelves and his unique way of measuring out the goodies into paper cones.

Amazingly, he could mend cigarette lighters brought into the shop by customers.

A keen darts player, he carried on playing with the help of others who would tap the board in the appropriate place for him to aim.

Bob and his wife, Ivy, had a daughter, Maureen, who now lives in Ireland. Maureen has also been overwhelmed by the response from readers.

She said: "He was a very, very independent man who never looked for sympathy and never complained about losing his eyesight.

"He never had a white stick because he wanted to look as normal as possible. He was a good man and very charitable.

"He deserves this and it is wonderful to think so many people have such memories of him."

Maureen said her dad was a carpenter when, at the age of 24, a piece of wood flew into his eye and doctors were unable to save the sight in that eye. He went on holiday to Great Yarmouth and was standing on the railway station when he suddenly went blind in the other eye.

Bob went to see specialists at London's Moorfields Eye Hospital and was told if he had been sent there in the first instance his sight could have been saved. His reaction was: "I have my whole life in front of me, I can't stay sitting in an armchair."

With practical support and financial help from the Blind Society, Bob opened his shop in 1929 - two years after losing his sight.

He retired in the 1970s and died, aged 87, 15 years ago.

Towards the end of his life, Bob became saddened at how he had been blind for most of his life and doubted that people would remember him and his contribution to the community.

How wrong he was.

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