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Lives Remembered

Robert Blomfield

16 March 1938 - 14 December 2020

Robert Blomfield remembered by his carer, Ralph Nimmann

Robert Blomfield

Robert listening to buskers in St. George's Square
in Hebden Bridge, October 2020

After 8 years of being a personal care assistant for Dr. Robert Blomfield, he died on Monday 14th December evening at Huddersfield Infirmary in my presence.

Robert cycled alone to Istanbul and climbed the Matterhorn with family members.

He studied medicine in Edinburgh and really was a bit of a shy introvert; that was probably a reason he hid behind his camera doing street photography in Edinburgh and other places 60 years ago. Robert loved children, especially when they roamed freely in the old cobble stone streets of Edinburgh. He dreamt of having Hebden Bridge car-free at least on one day.

Robert at home

Robert moved to London to be with his wife Jane. He proudly told me the story, how the police arrested him (in the 1960s) on Picadilly Circus in London, because he was “blowing bubbles” upsetting some "Danish tourists". Jane defended Robert by hitting a police officer with an air balloon. Later they asked how the police knew it was upsetting others and that they were Danish tourists, and the answer was "because the tourists were wearing leather trousers".

Robert also attended the first Glastonbury Festivals with Jane and made some photos there.

In the summer of 1985, Robert and his wife Jane moved to Hebden Bridge. Robert adored his wife Jane, who was a co-founder of the Hebden Bridge Steiner School. They had a very active social life, including showing slides at their home, and were surrounded by art and singing and music.

They both loved attending the Taizé harmony singing.

I heard they used to be local trouble makers and led several protests. Really, he was an old hippie, active in the CND campaign. Robert got frustrated with the medical system and the patients always asking for antibiotics, so he became a homeopathic doctor practising from his home on Commercial Street (which was called “Doctors Row” earlier on, he told me, pre-empting his arrival?)

Then triple fate hit Robert: he had a stroke disabling all of his left side in 1999 (and Jane cared lovingly for him), then he was struck of the medical register – and about 10 years ago his beloved wife Jane died.

At this point in writing, Robert would have called for a joke – jokes were a life saver for him:

  • “Have you heard about the magic tractor? It went down the lane – and then turned into a field!”
  • “What’s the sleepiest fish? – A kipper.”
  • “How do you call a fish without eyes? - Fsh.”
  • “How do you call a raindeer without eyes?” – “No idea.”
  • “Two fish in a tank. What does one fish say to the other? - ‘How do you drive that thing?’”
  • “Where do you find hippies? – On the top of your leggies”
  • “What key opens a banana? – A monkey”
  • “What’s the fastest cake? – Scone.”

Apart from children and people, Robert loved art, music, flowers, trees, clouds and the heron, and he took many photos of these.

When I arrived in Hebden Bridge in 2012 after the floods, I was looking for work, and found that note on the Co-Op notice board “Carer Wanted”. It turned out the two of us were a good match.

Robert introduced me to the tricks, frauds and deceits of the pharmaceutical industry promoting their vaccines, which led me to dig deep into vaccine safety and efficacy. I introduced Robert to my FREE HUGS, which he frequently requested. He told me about Hippocrates’ motto: “let food be your medicine” – and I gave good medicine.

Especially in the dark season Robert struggled a lot, feeling overwhelmed with missing his wife, feeling lonely, and having failed to accomplish “his life mission”, which was “to save children from being vaccinated”. Over the years I took some of what Robert could not accomplish on board, mostly by posting on Facebook, informing some – and upsetting others...

When Sue retired from offering Taizé singing, I took over and continued leading this harmony singing group, first at Hope Baptist Chapel, and after the Boxing Day floods 2015, we moved to sing to Robert’s home, which was always warm and welcoming.

"Student Union, Edinburgh 1964" photographed by Robert Blomfield

Over the years, our circles of friends were increasingly overlapping. Robert’s other carers were coming and going – and I was his reliable rock. He used to blast his opinion out instantly, giving his verdict “that’s rubbish” or: “utterly brilliant”, and frequently changed his mind. One day he called me “you are like Jesus Christ” – another day, after we had an argument, he said “you don’t care at all”. On a scale from 1 to 10, his telephone manners were about minus3 – and still: Robert had something charming and human, not hiding his vulnerability, and in no time the conversation could move from a really bad joke to some profound spiritual or political or educational theme.

Finally – after sitting for six decades in shoeboxes in closed cupboards, Robert’s black and white Edinburgh photos were enlargened, framed and exhibited in Edinburgh at the City Art Centre from November 2018 to March 2019. Visitor numbers were 400% of what was expected, and Robert was recognised as one of the top British black & white photographers.

This year 2020 was challenging. If asked about coronavirus, he would say something like:“bloody police state! I can’t even see my family!” When he was already bedbound, he missed seeing his family and grandchildren even more. He used to read the same blue book “Waldorf Education” over and over again.

Over the years I got to know the nurses, doctors and ambulance crews, and at the end of their visits, Robert frequently called for a joke. With vitamin C & D and lots of fresh fruit, blueberries and his beloved bananas I got used to

Robert bouncing back. This time he returned to his true home, finally united with his much missed Jane.

Onwards to the Light... until we meet again...

PS: Robert's funeral, arranged by his family, will be in Sheffield on Wednesday 30 December.

For summer 2021, we hope to organise a memorial service in Hebden Bridge for Robert.

I really recommend watching the award winning, moving and personal 16 minute film documentary about Robert as a photographer: An Unseen Eye.

Robert’s photo website: www.robertblomfield.co.uk/

Robert Blomfield's Instagram page

BBC report about his Edinburgh photos:

Interview with Robert’s son Will

His truly amazing brand new big photo collection book

Ralph Nimmann

Thursday, 24 December 2020


From Julia Mercer

Tuesday, 29 December 2020

I loved Robert's silly jokes too. Here's one I remember:

2 sausages in a pan....
Sausage 1: "Crikey, it's hot in here"
Sausage 2: "Crikey, a talking sausage!"

Thanks for everything Robert. Go wellxxx


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