Many of the following messages were left at the Tools For Self Reliance website, which (as of June 2016) continued to gather and publish contributions:
“I knew Glyn three times: first by reputation as a pioneer working with Arthur Gillette at CCIVS, a kind of legend to those of who later also worked there. Secondly, when I was Secretary of IVS GB and TFSR was one of our workcamp partners. We invited Glyn to the 50th anniversary celebration of workcamps at Brynmawr in 1981 where he made a brilliant keynote speech. (I remember the bit about the first Russian volunteers arriving at a project ion the West). Finally when my wife and I visited him in East Cowes when he was into his Isle of Wight sculpture period and still as inspired as ever! It’s good to celebrate such a life.”
“Glyn was a man who could see the good in any person, a good counter to all the xenophobia around us. We are privileged to have known Glyn and to help in his work.”
Roy and Jenny Barnard
Volunteers, Netley Marsh
I first met Glyn in 1955 when we went up to the LSE as fresher undergraduates in the Geography department, joint with Kings, London. He was Rob to us then and so of course he’s remained Rob for us these 61 years. There were only 7 of us Joint School geographers at the LSE that year so we were a close-knit group, risking our lives several times a day as we dashed across the Aldwych and the Strand between lectures.
Rob was always full of energy and original ideas and such fun. He already held some pretty strong principles though his pacifism and vegetarianism didn’t stop him gleefully attempting to spear trout in Hampshire streams on field trips. We lost touch after graduation but as the 25 year mark came up a few of us worked on tracing others for a reunion get-together at my home. To our delight we found Rob via an item in a national newspaper praising the young charity Tools for Self Reliance.
And so from the that time we have kept in touch and several of the group have subscribed to TFSR. We haven’t managed to meet up too often and Christmas cards weren’t Rob’s style but we certainly exchanged news every year. I so enjoyed Rob’s hand scrawled missives, not long, but always lively with news of family and projects and travels. With family working in aid and mission work in Africa we shared Rob’s interests and concerns and enjoyed his creativity. His letters almost always included little pen sketches and diagrams. Hearing that we had moved to the New Forest area Rob’s last letter contained a sketch map to Netley Marsh – good geographer to the last. I shall be using it on June 5th. Thanks, Rob, for those years of friendship.
“These few lines are just to say how sorry I was to read of the passing of your founder, Glyn Roberts. Please would you pass on my condolences to his family and tell them how proud I am to have such a visionary charitable projects as Tools for Self Reliance based in the constituency which I represent. The TFSR concept is admirable in so many ways; from the point of view not only of the communities you assis but also from that of the restorers and donors of the equipment. When I had to dispose of my father’s workshop after he finally ceased working as a tailor after 72 years, it gave huge satisfaction to my family to know that his sewing machine, tailoring iron and scissors, etc, would have a new lease of life overseas.
Glyn Roberts had a brilliant idea, and long may you all continue to put it into practice!
Rt Hon Dr Julian Lewis MP (New Forest East)
“I met Glyn many years ago with the great idea of refurbished tools during my years at SIDO. The idea was subject to understanding how the refurbished tools will make a difference to poor people. Some people critised the idea. It was after the evidence from beneficiaries that we realised it was a great vision.
My sincere condolences to the family, volunteers, artisans and friends. Glyn has departed but his legacy remains.”
“Rest in Peace Mr Glyn Roberts-Amen”
On behalf of the board of Governors, staff and students of the Educational Centre the Blind and Visually Impaired Sierra Leone, I wish to extend our heartfelt condolences on the death of Glyn Roberts, funder of Tools for Self Reliance. Glyn has been a pillar and liberator for the Survival of the human race in developing countries through his chartable work (Tools for Self Reliance) that is giving skill work to young people in Africa and more particularly in our school ( Educational Centre for the Blind and Visually Impaired) in Sierra Leone West Africa. Oh! Though Glyn Roberts, your work to save humanity has made you immortal. You are only sleeping but not dead. Your work still lingers on in Africa and our school.
Educational Centre the Blind and Visually Impaired, Sierra Leone
“I arrived at Netley Marsh in 1983 as an escape from a mind numbing graduate trainee job with Berger Paints, something of a culture shift! At that time Netley Marsh was a building site and TFSR was going through an interesting phase characterised by ‘votes for goats’ and ideological differences between various impassioned staff members, trustees, volunteers etc. Through it all Glyn remained a steadfast, inspiring figure. The move to TFSR, reading Glyn’s ‘Questioning Development’, and all of the discussions with him and others (famously at the daily group veggie/vegan lunches!) inspired me to do VSO in Zambia and instilled a lifetime commitment to working on development/environment issues. Thank you Glyn, you will be greatly missed.”
“CCSL wishes to express our sincere sympathies to the Glyn Roberts Family. Although we have not met him personally, we continue to benefit from his legacy as long time participators in giving reality to his vision. We pray that God will grant special grace and mercy to his family and friends at this time as his passing is mourned.”
Ebun James-DeKam, General Secretary, Council of Churches in Sierra Leone
“The Baptist Women’s Union Sierra Leone wishes to extend our sympathy to Tools for Self Reliance for the lost of Glyn Roberts, the founder of this noble Organisation of which we are beneficiary.
We thank God for the life he spent on earth and the impact he has made to humanity.
We hope and pray that God will console you and the rest of his family.”
Matilda Dumbuya, BWU President.
“I was workshop organiser at Netley Marsh 1990-1994 and had the pleasure of working alongside Glyn. He was a really genuine person with deep convictions and the continuation of TFSR is a proud legacy and a testament to a person with both the vision and the determination to see it through.
My deep condolences to both his family and his many friends.”
Dr Tim Blumfield
“I did not have many encounters with Glyn, either by post (in those pre-internet days) or in person, but as a longterm member of TFSR, I can not let the news of his passing go unmarked without a few respectful and affectionate comments.
Glyn was uncompromising. Stern, in his insistence that TFSR continue to focus on the very poorest people in Africa and in other areas of what was then known as the Third World; steadfast, in his left-wing political views. But he was kind, generous and forbearing in his dealings with individuals. On one occasion (this was more than 20 years ago, so I can’t recall the reason), Glyn needed a bed for the night in York. I offered to put him up. In those days I shared my house with lodgers. One of them had taken Glyn’s phone call to say what time his train would arrive in York, and they had written it down in a form which I misinterpreted. On the evening in question, Glyn rang (from a phone box, of course,) to say that he had been waiting for an hour at the station. My embarrassment may be imagined. I expected our meeting to be difficult, but Glyn was reassuring. Perhaps his experience of the African concept of Time (not based on the clock!) enabled him to show tolerance.
The other memory I have is of Glyn’s devotion to his wife, Sigyn, and of the way he came to terms during her illness and after her untimely death. I recall Glyn saying, in a talk, that an African artisan who lived to the age of 50 was very lucky.
Of course, Glyn had other concerns and interests, (in particular his family), beyond the “strong, simple idea” which still drives TFSR’s work, but I think he was unusual in living the rest of his life in pursuit of the vision which had inspired him to take energetic action. One would like to pay tribute to that.”
“We are so sorry for the death of TFSR founder Glyn Robert who died on 6/4/2016 it real touch both of us, but as human being we can not control the God works because he is the owner of both of us. May his soul rest in peace”
Lilian, SIDO Kilimanjaro
“Please accept our deepest condolences on the death of Tools for Self Reliance founder Glyn Roberts. We cannot think of anything to say that can comfort you in your sorrow. But we want you to know that we are thinking of you and sharing in your grief. We extend to you our most heartfelt sorrow and condolences.”
Rev. Patrick Sartie, Director, Craftshare Bo – Sierra Leone
“Frank and I were happy to know Glyn and his family for the best part of the last half century. His interest in development and his passionate commitment to justice were the driving force which led him, amongst many other things, to set up TFSR of which I was privileged to be the first Chair. The purchase and development of Netley Marsh seemed a gamble at the time, but Glyn’s vision and dedication have been richly fulfilled. His wonderful optimism and sense of fun undoubtedly helped this achievement at times when the going was tough.
Glyn was a man of gentleness and modesty. His ambitions were always for the issues and never for self-advancement. We are all the poorer for his passing.”
“Rest in Peace Glyn Roberts, the Founder of TFSR”
Abel X. Mapunda, Regional Manager, SIDO Dodoma
“The charity TFSR, which he devised has such a simple methodology, enabling those in the UK to contribute their skills, and often gives refurbishers a purpose in life. The tool kits give empowerment to artisans in selected countries in Africa, out of all proportion to the cost; a truly win win situation.
I have felt honoured to have met him at the 25 anniversary of the founding of TFSR and for the last decade maintained the memorial Swedish Whitebeam tree to his wife, at Netley Marsh and did not know until today of the Swedish connection.”
“At this time of loss to Glyn´s sons and his companion Erika, there are countless other people across the world who will feel bereft of his remarkable presence.
Glyn was a man with a deeply egalitarian outlook who refused to stand on ceremony and was never happier than wearing an old jumper, gripping a broom or fashioning an artwork, deep in conversation and inevitably with that familiar steely look in his eye and winning smile on his face. Here was a man with deep persuasive powers, strong convictions, undaunted idealism and an amazing gift for making things happen. He was a man who could have thrived in any number of roles. His mother, a dynamo in her own right, wanted Glyn to become a member of parliament, I recall, and it is our great fortune that instead he devoted himself and his considerable energies to building, block by block, the structure that became his lasting legacy, Tools For Self Reliance.
I had the privilege to work alongside Glyn (nobody ever worked for him) as groups secretary from 1985-7 and as northern organizer from 1988-90. Like a great many others, Glyn and I shared simple and tasty meals, plenty of laughs, innumerable car journeys, events across the length and breadth of Britain, sing-songs (guitar in hand), and thought-provoking discussions. Anyone who spent time with Glyn knew that he was extraordinary and his commitment to making the world a better place was contagious. Having moved to Finland decades ago I saw rather less of Glyn, but he made two visits to Helsinki over the years, most recently three years ago. It was a great pleasure to rekindle our friendship and remain in regular correspondence till the end of Glyn´s life. We last met sixteen months ago for a family celebration in the New Forest and Glyn duly turned up with his fiddle and infused the occasion with his upbeat presence.
We all share an aching sense of loss with Glyn´s parting, a bit like losing a sure-footed guide whilst still en route, but our best tribute to his life´s work is to stand in solidarity with the ideals that he inspired and the actions he took to make them happen. As Glyn would cheerfully admit, TFSR may be a drop in the ocean when it comes to addressing poverty but it is vitally important in keeping something alive. Thanks, matey, for your warm companionship and fine example.”
“We would like to pay tribute to Glyn not just for his work for TFSR but also as a superb sculptor. A few years ago he gave us a tour of the Isle of Wight showing us the wonderful creations he had carved in surprising places. He was a wonderfully gifted man and a great human being!”
Ross & Jill Thompson
“It is unfortunate he will no longer be with us in this world, but am sure his work and commitment has left us something to remember forever. On behalf of SIDO staffs we wish to send our condolences to his family and friends.
God bless him”
Omar J. Bakari, SIDO
“Very sad to hear from you the death of Glyn Roberts, who worked tirelessly for TFSR and for Artisans in Africa. Rest In Peace the Founder of TFSR.”
Samwel, Regional Manager, SIDO
“I wish to convey heartfelt condolences to every one at TFSR on behalf of COP and indeed on my own behalf. I am very sure that his vision will still live on because of his passion for human development.”
Billy Sichamba, COP, Zambia
“We were saddened to hear of the death of your Founder Mr. Glyn Roberts , though we did not get to know him personally , his legacy through the work of TFSR is very vital and greatly seen and felt daily. We know that this is a difficult time for your organization . Words are inadequate at a time like this; however, please know that you are in our thoughts. On behalf of all personnel and trainees of Apoolo Na Angor, I extend our deepest sympathy.”
Moses Aisia, Executive Director
Glyn was an inspirational, charismatic and caring person and the world will be a little duller now.”
“The staff and volunteers of Mobility Sierra Leone programme in Bo city SL West Africa extend their heart felt condolence to the family and friends of our late brother Glyn Roberts from TFSR who passed away on April 06th, we love him but God loves him the best, may his Soul Rest in Perfect Peace.”
Lamin, Mobility Sierra Leone
“We at Future Focus Foundation expressed with sadness our condolence to the bereaved family and Tools For Self Reliance. It is indeed a great loss to us all. Our organization and our beneficiaries will continue to remember Glyn as an architect of self reliance through skills and trades in Africa. Go well and rest you will always be remembered for your initiative from which thousands have benefited.”
Sylvestre Sidie Kallon, National Team Leader
Future Focus Foundation
“We did not in our group personally know Glyn, but he has kept us all together, given vision and purpose.”
John .. Bridgend Tools for Self Reliance Group
“I met Glyn many years ago, when he had just started TFSR, when he and his wife, along with a motley assortment of friends and helpers used to have tool restoring sessions at his house. What a fantastic idea I thought, and I suggested that people who wanted to donate old tools could drop them off at my business premises, which was then located in central Gosport.
A few years later, he proudly gave me a grand tour of the Netley Marsh workshops, and I visisted there again a few years ago (2008) at the book launch for ‘Keeping Something Alive’ – the story of TFSR, which we printed. The photo here shows Glyn collecting the boxes of books, hot off the press, from me, here in Wickham.
Although Glyn was a loyal client of Studio 6 for a long while, he became a dear friend, who I have such huge admiration for. This gentle man (and gentleman) achieved so much in a fascinating life, yet retained immense modesty and sensitity towards others, and is one of the nicest people I have ever met. A complete inspiration who I will never forget.”
“I had the privilege to meet Glyn in some dark basement room at Southampton University at the end of 1980, when he handed me over a box of engineering tools to take back to the co-opertaive factory in Bangladesh where I was working through VSO. I had read Glyn’s booklet on volunteering before I went to Bangladesh, the best thing I read in preparation, and sensitised me to the ‘power politics’ of aid – a bit scary at the time – so it was quite something to meet the author.
That meeting, and the simple concept of what TFSR is remained with me for 20 years until I started a group in Cambridge in 2000. 16 years later and we are still going, despite the need to move premises a couple of times.
Glyn was a great inspiration to many and the thought of the thousands of artisans in Africa who have benefited from Glyn’s vision fills me with warmth and hope.
Jim Infield, Cambridge TFSR
“I am so sorry to hear of the death of Glyn from your newsletter.
I have known Glyn since 1963. I joined him at the Coordinating committee for International Voluntary Service, which was based in Rue Franklin in the 16th arr. In Paris. It was a small organisation with a permanent link with UNESCO and was housed in a building with all sorts of other grand voluntary organisations like the International Museum Association; the International Libraries Association and so on. There were three, Glyn, Arthur Gillette and myself, who were permanent, and the occasional volunteer. We were all incredibly hard working – it was an exciting time. Germany was then divided into East and West and the West Germans were forever complaining that we were speaking to the East Germans and the Poles and so on – and of course that was the very purpose of the exercise! But we did hold meetings in Budapest and in Austria and elsewhere. Glyn was then living on a boat moored on the Seine, which was not particularly spacious, but it was all so peculiar!
It was a tense period in the life of France – with the fighting in Algeria and a permanent state of fear. Police officers were armed to the teeth. Plus ca change….
After Paris, I went back to Cambridge into my academic career. Arthur started to go up the pole and achieved great success at UNESCO itself. Glyn married the lovely Sigyn, who was Swedish, and they went to Ethiopia, where he was Deputy Director of the Swedish Peace Corps. Eventually they had 3 boys and Adam, who was the Economist correspondent in South Africa for a long time and is now in India, many years later helped me to transform my house in Dulwich. Glyn and Arthur were terribly committed sailors and must have crossed the Atlantic possibly half a dozen times on their sail boat.
He was a man who never compromised. I still have a lovely letter from him, a few years back saying that he did not have a computer, did not know what e-mail was, did not possess a television, and only lit one light bulb at the time and was incredibly happy!!!
I last saw him with Erika at a launch of one of my books at the House of Commons about 4 years back. He was always determined to do something about world poverty, not in the abstract, but in reality. Tools for Self-Reliance was the result of that; no glory but real aid.
Rest in peace my old companion.”
Rose and Jean Duroux, French/Spanish friends of Glyn and Erika, sent this picture, message and a haiku in memory of Glyn:
Nous espérons et revoyons le sourire de Glyn –un sourire qui a préservé la grâce de l’enfance
Haïku pour Glyn
l’homme la mer
la fleur l’amour