The cricketers' charity that raises money to provide sports and recreational facilities for the visually impaired
Robert Fleming 1933-2021
Robert Fleming, who died in February aged 87, was a muchloved and hugely influential Honorary Secretary and then Chairman of the Primary Club.
Robert grew up in Australia and yet, fittingly for a future Primary Club stalwart, had strong Beckenham connections. His paternal grandfather had been the minister at Beckenham Baptist Church and when Robert settled in the UK in 1959, his Beckenham family welcomed him warmly, as did a local cricket team, the Jolly Rogers. Robert the cricketer was described in the 1997 edition of this Newsletter as “a purveyor of vicious in-swing bowling off the wrong foot. The result was an occasional wicket and a replacement left hip”.
One of Robert’s team-mates in the Jolly Rogers was Mike Thomas, then the Hon Sec of the Primary Club. Over the years Robert and Mike discussed the possibility of Robert maybe taking over when Mike, and his wife Toni, wanted to step down. The timing was fortuitous. Robert’s retirement from the world of television production in 1996 (he produced a number of acclaimed documentaries for ITV) coincided with Mike retiring due to ill health. Adrian Thomas, Mike and Toni’s son and a current Trustee, describes Robert as “one of those rare people who had the priceless gift of making you feel special”.
From 2004 to 2008, Robert was our chairman. With his wife Marion, he brought energy, wisdom and innovation to The Primary Club, including the introduction of a range of merchandise.
Fellow Trustee, Mike Brace CBE, says of Robert: “He was passionate about the ability of sport to change lives. Through his leadership and commitment to The Primary Club the range and quality of sporting opportunities for the vision impaired have dramatically expanded and improved. He was a key instigator and organiser of the legendary Primary Club dinners, which were graced by an incredible range of speakers such as Mike Brearley, Richie Benaud, Christopher Martin-Jenkins and Sir John Major. His sense of fun, friendship and support will be greatly missed.”