Remembering Bob Mullen

Following the recent death of our dear friend Bob Mullen, please read a tribute written by Nick Hill, with help from Cllr David Leyland and the blessing of Bob’s family.

Who was Bob Mullen?

For a start he was a husband, a father, a friend or colleague and advisor to anyone who needed help. A man who seemed to have an infinite knowledge of, well, just about everything. A man of so many facets. He dedicated his life of retirement to so many people and organisations: enriching, enabling, ever willing in giving or devoting his time and expertise to many wild life projects, be it digging ponds, planting trees, hanging nesting or roosting boxes for birds and bats, clearing undergrowth or creating places of wildlife interest at centres such as Nature’s World. He was a member of Nunthorpe’s Grumpy Gardeners, all members well chosen to match the title, he also dedicated himself to making Nunthorpe a better place, for children, adults, as well as for nature itself, so very dear to himself and all of its members.

Deeply involved with Nunthorpe Parish Council, firstly as a member, then latterly he will always be remembered as Advisor Bob. An expert in Planning and its rules and regulations, putting even the professionals to shame, as well as his universal knowledge of many other vital aspects of community management. From this he then went on to assist, or probably took a lead in the creation of other parish councils. Always steering in the right direction or proffering advice as help was needed. More recently he became Secretary to Thorpe Thewles Parish Council and probably several others that not even his closest friends knew about.

He assisted in the running of the Planetarium at Wynyard and as a scholar of Astrophysics he revelled in sharing his expertise with school groups or interested parties who came along to view the stars and heavens. He was proud to have known Patrick Moore, being invited to his home as well as to Jodrell Bank Observatory. Now in his passing, Bob has left a very large Black Hole, a void that will be impossible to fill.

In his earlier life, Bob was employed as an engineer within the Post Office Communications Department. He aided in the creation of nuclear bunkers, command and control centres, saving the lives of those deemed to be of sufficient importance, be it councillors or politicians, probably those very people who Bob would have considered not worthy of preservation. Later, he was employed by International Aeradio Ltd which was part of the British Airways Corporation, involved in the creation and setting up of microwave facilities for landing and aviation route guidance purposes. He and his family lived in Africa and the Middle East for many years until his retirement and return to Britain. At one time he was even seconded to the US armed forces as a supernumerary lieutenant in Algeria.

In recent times, even as a man with constant back pain and angina attacks of almost daily recurrence, he set about his voluntary work with a gusto that would put most of us to
shame. He was simply a man with a mission and nothing and nobody was going to stand in his way, not even the pleadings of his family to take it easy were heeded.

Bob was an avid local historian, forming or assisting in the formation of numerous history groups. His research was second to none. He gave lectures, held seminars and invited guest speakers along to his meetings. He ran his own web site, Nunthorpe History Group.

He also fought for the preservation of our rural heritage as a member of the CPRE, mixing with experts and politicians alike in order to save the countryside from the encroachment of man and his progressive concrete jungle making.

Quite simply, it would be better to ask what Bob didn’t do? Well a few of us know that he detested all things railway, including steam locomotives and definitely played no part in their preservation. Or did he? Thorpe Thewles Railway Station just might know better.

Finally, if there ever could be such a word where Bob was concerned, each Christmas he dedicated himself to the role of Father Christmas. He certainly didn’t have to worry about his facial features for that role! All dressed up in his red and white costume he was a sight to behold and probably scared the life out of many a child. Bah Humbug!

Bob Mullen, of Scottish descent and of a Hartlepool/Billingham upbringing, was simply a phenomenon, for those of us who had the great pleasure of knowing him or for a few, as a true and loyal friend, and not forgetting his wonderful family. He devoted his life to the service of others, unceasingly giving and enriching all of those he touched with his formidable knowledge and generosity. We all salute a man so dedicated to his fellow man.

Did anybody mention, ‘As a stubborn as a mule’? Bob Mullen, no, surely not!!! So Bob, if you were wrong about the next chapter of moving on to the next dimension, the after life, may poor old St. Peter have ear defenders and an expert knowledge of the book of rules for entry into that higher place, or he just might get the sack!

P.S. Should anything have been left out or omitted, apologies for not having his knowledge and expertise. And please remember that Bob never held an opinion on anything! Not bloody much he didn’t is all we can say.

Farewell Chum. Gone but never forgotten.

Who’s going to feed the hedgehogs?