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Reflections So Far

During the course of a LifeBook Memoirs project, our ghostwriters listen to more than 16 hours of audio recordings. Through all of my time listening to Bob’s interviews, I can safely say that there wasn’t a minute that I didn’t enjoy. Bob’s infectious good humour, wit, and warmth seemed to write themselves onto the page.

A Sunderland lad

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Bob was born and bred in Sunderland, a city in the north-east of England, where he has a rich family heritage. He began his working life in the Sunderland shipyards and progressed to an interesting and varied career as a staff development expert, professor, and consultant. Bob co-founded the South Tyne Accredited Training Centre, which set a new precedent for post-16 education and was copied up and down the United Kingdom.

Outside of work, Bob devoted a large amount of his time to soccer, first as a semi-professional player and later as a coach, manager, secretary, referee, and chairman. His sense of community spirit shines brightly in these stories, as he tells of transforming his club into a regional powerhouse. As Bob says, “Football is more than just a sporting outlet for me; it’s the reason why I know so many people around Sunderland.” Indeed, Bob’s book is a paean to the city of Sunderland as well as an intimate life story.

A dedication to family and friends

The family and friends who have supported Bob throughout his life are interwoven into every chapter of his LifeBook, but his final chapter is specifically dedicated to each of the important people in his life. A LifeBook is an opportunity to write your life story, of course, but, for Bob, it also presented an opportunity to pay tribute to the people behind his successes.

None of these people are more significant than Bob’s wife of 59 years. Bob describes their relationship as “the rock on which everything else stands, reliable and only ever improving.” As well as being central to Bob’s life, his wife helped him in each stage of the writing process, contributing to some stories and helping to clarify others. Together, they have raised two sons, of whom they are clearly very proud. In fact, Bob’s primary motivation for writing his memoir was so that his sons could read his full life story. As Bob says at the end of his book, “I would like to be remembered and judged through my sons. I don’t need a legacy—they are my legacy.”

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Written by Ania Kalinowska, LifeBook Memoirs editor