Service Leadership: The Hospice Biographers

September 26, 2016


A remarkable recent example of service leadership can be found in the example set by Barbara Altounyan , in the founding of The Hospice Biographers this month

My very indirect connection with Barbara comes from a meeting with her father and medical innovator Roger Altounyan , many years ago.

Her innovation is a brilliant one. I have no doubt it will inspire others to contribute to what will be a much-appreciated service to large numbers of families.  Its ultimate scope is global.

In her newsletter, Barbara explains the idea behind the new charity:

As an audio biographer, I record people’s life stories on audio so that their family and friends will still be able to hear their voices and memories long after they’ve passed away. I’ve been an interviewer for radio and TV for the past thirty years so I’m now well able to marshal the very best interviews from my clients.

Once a month, I also volunteer my professional services at a local hospice but wondered if such a service also existed elsewhere, at other hospices in the UK? Does your hospice already offer this to your day patients? If not, would you be interested?

I am currently considering launching a small charity called The Hospice Biographers this September [2016]. if this service proves to be genuinely wanted and needed. The charity would recruit and train volunteer mature journalists like myself to carry out audio biographies at their local hospices across the country, from John O’Groats to Brighton.

If interested, each hospice would be asked to provide a quiet room once a month, somewhere for the recording to take place. The charity would provide the necessary audio equipment. Each interview with a patient would last about 45 minutes to an hour, with patients given a USB or CD recording of their audio interview at a later date to keep or to give to their relatives as an heirloom, a family treasure.

If this is something you would be interested in, please do let me know.

You can find out more about Barbara’s work on her website, or contact her via email at or on 0771 253 4399.



Justin Welby: how a leader deals with news that would devastate most people

April 19, 2016

The Archbishop of Canterbury discovers his private life conceals a secret that most people would find difficult or even impossible to deal with.  His reaction is admirable

The news headlines promised prurience. The spiritual leader of the Church of England finds himself the product of a brief extra-marital relationship between his mother Jane Portal who was Winston Churchill’s personal secretary, and Sir Anthony Montague Browne (1923–2013), Churchill’s private secretary.

Read the rest of this entry »

Leadership Bingo: How to assess leadership performance in the General Election debates

April 6, 2015

QueencerseiIn their attempts to appear authentic, political leaders ‘leak’ information about their leadership styles. Here are some signals which help you play a game of Leadership Bingo during the General Election debates

I examined the great ‘seven leaders’ debate of April 2nd, in search of leadership styles.

Using my notes, I began to work out a more comparative analysis of the leaders combining their performance on the night with more general patterns of leadership behaviour to be found in the literature and in popular culture (Game of Thrones candidate above).

A jumble of leadership styles

My first efforts resulted in a jumble of leadership styles which began to connect what I had observed with more general concepts:

Charismatic style [CS]: (induces belief in those around without need to use statistics or reference to other evidence of authority. Offers hope (vision) for future}
Democratic style [DS] (Distributed leadership: Let’s share leadership responsibilities)
Empathic style [ES]: (I share your pain)
Heroic Warrior style [HWS] : (Lone Ranger: This dude has something special in a tough fight)
Level 5 style [L5S] : Modest but with evidence of determination (‘fierce resolve’)
Nurturing style [NS]: ( I’ll look after you)
Servant leader style [SLS]: (I am an instrument to help you achieve your goals)

The leadership bingo card

So there you have it: the political wonk’s bingo card for use alone, electronically, in the classroom or in the pub (suited for UKIP gatherings).

Fill in the card for each speaker. Needless to say, the winner is the bingo player who can identify every speaker with a leadership style line.

In the case of a tie, the winner goes to the player who has identified the most additional styles on the card.DSCN0938
Make your own cards for other leaders you are interested in. Here is the card I used

Let me know (comments) if you like Leadership Bingo.



Michele Ferrero (1924-2015): Obituary of a discrete global leader

February 18, 2015

Ferrero-Rocher-PyramidThe notion of servant leadership is open the accusation of self-serving hypocrisy masking as humility and piety. Michele Ferrero’s life refutes such charges in his case

The Guardian noted:

When Michele Ferrero took over his family’s confectionery firm on the death of his uncle, Giovanni, in 1957, he wrote a letter to his employees. “I pledge myself to devote all my activities and all my efforts to this company,” it said. “And I assure you that I shall only feel satisfied when I have managed, with concrete results, to guarantee you and your children a safe and tranquil future.”

Ferrero was an entrepreneur of a kind Italy throws up from time to time, inspired more by the social doctrines of the Roman Catholic church than by any belief in the merits of the free market.

The case of Nutella

Michele’s father Pietro converted a family pastry shop into a chocolate factory with what became a world-beating product in Nutella, a Business School case favourite. Pietro lived in a region south of Turin famous for its natural products including hazel nuts, a key ingredient of Nutella. Michelle demonstrated his flair for confectionery and marketing when he reformulated and re-branded the choconut spread. Today the product takes around 20% of the world’s supply of hazel nuts.

The Ferrero group

Pietro instilled in Michele a passion for confectionery and product innovation. His son converted the local business into The Ferrero group, a global giant, making him one of the wealthiest of the world’s billionaires.

The business he inherited stands alongside other firms with a socially responsible ethos which transcends the structure of a CSR department. There are parallels with the Tata group of India, and various firms founded under the spirit of what Weber called ‘the protestant ethic’  including another confectionery giant, the former Cadburys group.

Its treatment of employees is at very least of high quality and in many aspects best-practice. The firm initiated the practice of collecting and returning employees to their villages. Medical care and other welfare services are of high quality. Ferrero’s workers have never gone on strike. The organization is active in awareness of and sustainability in the developing countries from which it sources its products.

 The iconic praline

The Ferrero Rocher brand has produced one of the most famous of images, that of the gold-wrapped praline product served at the exclusive party to guests of his excellency. When shown at cinemas, the ad always produces a humorous if ironic response at the incongruance between the product and the intended imagery of top-of-the-market tastes in confectionery.

By your acts shall you be known

The actions of Bill Gates and other modern titans of industry have helped us rediscover The socially responsible entrepreneur. We need not look for other-worldly piety. Critics point to Michel Fererro’s decision to leave Italy for Monaco under threat from The Red Brigades. He remained in tax-enlightened exile. He made no efforts to project or protect his public image.

He deserves to be remembered for his contributions to the well-being of his employees, and the satisfaction of consumers of his company’s products.

Concepts and Pragmatism: Applying original thinking in a Manchester Method way

February 12, 2015

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Vikram Madineni

Applying theory to find practical solutions in professions like engineering is well-known.  The Manchester Method approach in the field of management comes from  applying the learning in one’s professional life and, leveraging trust and current experiences.


The Global MBA program at Manchester Business School gave me a platform to self-reflect and grow professionally, to learn the importance of communication and also to shape my future goals and ambitions

Personal Growth

I encountered many of the nuances of business management early in my professional life, but at first I had a hard time relating to decisions being made from a professional and personal perspective.

The dynamic nature of the Global MBA course work, diversity of people, need for team collaboration and applying theoretical frameworks to understand “why” and “how” part of the decisions, all have shaped my personal growth over the last 18 months.

The focus on teamwork is paramount and there is a regular need to improvise based on dynamics of team members. I have dramatically improved my group negotiation and implementation strategies. For this, I owe much to the information exchange with other students in multiple workshops across countries and partly to the self-reflection of my creativity reports.

By using theoretical frameworks of economics, marketing, operations, accounting, and leadership when answering individual assignments, I gained a better perspective of various factors influencing decisions being made within my own organization.

Manchester Method

The emphasis on “managerial oriented” application of concepts rather than academic discussions has been advocated in all courses. I got a better understanding of the principle after receiving feedback for my final marketing assignment. My thorough research was appreciated, as was required in an MBA course, but both examiners explained the importance of also arriving at practical solutions that could benefit the company.

In the induction session the program director [mention name] explained the importance of networking, teamwork, the value of working within a diverse cohort and building relationships.

This has been an enriching experience and it has helped me to manage assignments and projects in a more efficient and productive fashion.

Chartering the future – Social Responsibility

I dreamed of being an entrepreneur since I graduated from college and I got a new perspective after reading an inspirational book about the TOMS company written by Blake Mycoskie – Start Something That Matters.

I chose the book for my leadership assignment and published a post about TOMS and its CSR in Leaders We Deserve.

Around the same time, I became aware of the amazing work being undertaken by the Gates Foundation and within my own company, Ingersoll Rand, in providing opportunities to serve a social cause. I was inspired and motivated to change but also identified the lack of management experience in handling strategy or operational needs of social organizations.

Johnson. W (2012), “Disrupt Yourself”, discusses the concept of disrupting oneself to stay ahead or charting one’s profession career.

I embraced the opportunity to do the Global MBA program, and over the last year I have opportunities to learn and understand the business system at a functional and a strategic perspective. As I progressed through my learning I gained knowledge in operations excellence and insights of marketing for a non-profit organization.

I had to do considerable amount of research on TOMS for my leadership and marketing course assignments. I gained a deeper understanding and need to embrace social responsibility; and also the power of words, advertisement of conscious consumers, and era of storytelling successful companies. I discussed this concept with our company’s marketing team to rethink branding and customer connectivity. We needed a story; a story that connects with our customers and makes them our passionate advertisers.

Original Thinking Applied

One of the most enjoyable workshops and one that I can vividly recall is the Accounting workshop! Marketing, Operations, CIB and all other workshop assignments helped me to gain a deeper understanding of the fundamentals but Accounting was very focused on one particular aspect of the organization or situation. I probably have never spent 6-8 hours analyzing just 3 sheets of papers before, the Balance Sheet, Cash Flow and Income Statements! It was a workshop in which I truly realized the potential of applying the thinking – understanding what financial ratios really mean, challenging whether the numbers are really telling a true story, what should the company or an investor be looking for.

Our group spent hours endorsing and debating each other perspective. I remember our professor being intrigued by the new metrics and ratios that we identified and how we linked them with a balanced score-card strategy. The level of analysis and realization of the importance of certain metrics all helped my immensely in applying the learnings in the business simulation course.

The business simulation course was another opportunity to bring all our learnings together for the first time and I enjoyed the challenge of managing and competing against my peers. Managing finances, building on equity, improving net margins, borrowing cheaper capital were all a result of application of deep analysis of the company’s financial statements and the market. This was also an opportunity for us to apply the concepts of strategy, adapt dynamically to market changes and build a road map for the future profitability. This gives me confidence in my ability to manage business operations in certain roles like strategic integrator, program manager in companies like TOMS or Gates Foundation.


My perspectives on definition of leadership have gradually changed over the course of my student and professional life. Growing up, my father was a leader for me; responsible, knowledgeable, humble and passionate. I inculcated lot of those values and owe my growth to his leadership skills as a parent. My views on leadership skills expanded during my career at Ingersoll Rand while working with my peers and my manager. We were now in a dynamically changing environment and it was educating to understand the need for a leader to find a “balance” – compassion and setting expectations, leading and allowing to lead, teaching and allowing to learn and most important of all humility and approachability.

The Manchester MBA program has expanded my horizon further on leadership traits and I was introduced to the concept of Servant Leadership. The ability to build a vision and then inspire and influence people to adopt and engage is truly a remarkable skill set. In this era of social consumerism the ability to reach out to people who are remote and influence their decisions is a differentiating attribute of the new generation leader.

The new era of conscious consumers and employees is suited in supporting and associating with a leader who is empathetic and is committed to social responsibility.


Three leadership books ‘favorited’ by executive business students in Miami

July 23, 2014

Miami July 2014 003

A group of executive MBA students in Miami selected three books as having influenced their personal leadership thinking and actions

The books add to results in a data base of books nominated by executive students around the world in upwards of 200 workshops conducted each year.

Long walk to freedom by Nelson Mandela

This classic has been frequently nominated for our data base. It was chosen by the student team for its insights into ‘a moral and unique leader…..the book has inspired me by encompassing all aspects of moral leadership

The servant by James Hunter

This is a book on servant leadership. ‘The essence of leadership is serving the needs of others’. Leadership is characterized as authority through intention plus action. The book was chosen ‘because it worked for me..

Creativity Inc by Ed Catmull

The third selection was Creativity Inc, by Ed Catmull, head of Pixar Animation and Disney Animation. It is the account of leadership in Pixar, one of the world’s creative organizations and pioneer of screen animation with Disney. The nomination was for its suggestions for ‘leadership encouraging the best from others’

Lei Feng is a Chinese role model and an example of servant leadership

March 27, 2012

March 5th is “Learn from Lei Feng Day”. A self-sacrificing soldier, Lei is celebrated in China as a role model of selflessness and modesty. Similarities with Servant Leadership are noted

Many LWD subscribers will be unaware of the story of Lei Feng and the esteem he is held in China. Lei’s fame arises from the days of Mao when he became a popular icon for the ideal soldier as ordinary hero. His fame remains today although the State now is opening up debate on such historical stories, for example through social media sites.

The Chinese social media site Sina Weibo is now providing an English language service

Sina Weibo correspondents were quoted extensively in a “China Daily article on Lei Feng recently [March 5th 2012] on the 49th anniversary of his death.

“While Lei Feng’s name still resonates in China and elsewhere, some begin to wonder whether the spirit of the Good Samaritan is still relevant in an age of intense materialistic pursuit and whether the image of helping grandmas cross the road is somewhat outdated.”

@Guaiguaideayuan Radio host at Zaozhuang Station:

There is nothing wrong with Lei Feng Spirit. It’s not the fault of those “Lei Fengs” (those who follow Lei’s example) that the spirit is now challenged and even doubted by some. It’s the reality and people’s perception of the reality: we want more from the others and from the society, and when the desires can’t be fully satisfied, we blamed something or somebody [other than ourselves].

@Wenxinfoshan Sina Weibo user

Today the new definition for Lei Feng Spirit should be as follows: 1. Try to do good, no matter how small it is; 2, try to be responsible; 3, try to be independent and do regular self-introspection; 4, try to put yourself in the others’ shoes, as often as possible; 5, and try to persevere in everything you do.

Global values and ordinary heroes

Western readers tend to reject stories from the time of Mao as State propaganda. There is even debate about the very existence of Lei Feng as portrayed officially. We can liken this to Western ‘ordinary heroes’ such as Robin Hood whose existence is challenged but whose story is accepted and romanticised.

Xinghuaqi, the biographer of Lei Feng puts it this way:

We promote Lei Feng Spirit because Lei Feng is an “ordinary” hero. His “heroics” were done in his daily life, and we can do the same if we wish. His spirit isn’t about communism or socialism – nothing ideological – but about the basic human nature. If everyone could follow Lei Feng’s path, the community will become much healthier.

The similarity to the work of Robert Greenleaf on servant leadership is clear. According to Dilemmas of Leadership, [p 190] servant leadership is essentially about “the development of followers into morally responsible and autonomous leaders”. This idea cuts across 20th century leadership “maps” which place emphasis on “the fallacy of the industrial paradigm” [p 239] and subsequent ethical dilemmas.

Recycling: Plastic Bottles turned into Houses in Nigeria

October 5, 2011

An environmental project is recycling plastic bottles into houses in Nigeria. The system was pioneered by German environmentalist Andreas Froese, and similar schemes are springing up globally

One pilot house has been constructed in Kaduna, Nigeria in which plastic bottles were filled with sand and stuck together using mud rather than cement.  The process is designed to withstand severe environmental conditions.

The Project

A report in Vanguard Nigeria describes the project:

Katrim Macmillam launched Nigeria’s bottle recycling programme in December 2010. This is a programme in which plastic bottles and their lids are collected from hotels, restaurants, homes and offices.

According to Yahaya Ahmed, Chief Executive Officer, Development Association for Renewable Energies (DARE), “We set out to build energy-autonomous houses from recycled materials. In order to facilitate the project, Andres Froesse, founder of Eco-Tec Soluciones Ambientales, was sent to Nigeria to train local masons in the bottle building technique”.

Chris Vassilou, the Project Manager, donated the first land for the bottle house build. Features in the bottle house include solar powered with fuel-sufficient clean cookstove, urine filtration fertilization systems and water purification tanks, thereby, making it energy autonomous. Currently, school children are being trained in the bottle brick-making technique. The newly trained masons will lead the build by January 2012 in the next Nigerian bottle project, which will be a school hall in Suleja, at an African school which urgently needs classroom space.

The Bottle-house pioneers

Bottle House technology has attracted pioneers who are believers in the potential of the process for environmental reasons. One such group includes environmentalist AmenZen who writes:

In my quest for alternatives that would allow me to recycle all trash and feel good about it, since 2003, I encountered the Portable Landfill Device [the bottle brick idea] and mentioned it on my website.

My friend Pato told me about bottle-bricks stuffed with plastic that he saw in his trip to the call of the condor in Perú by 2005 when we lived in Gratamira Ecovillage in Medellín, Colombia.
Then I saw the work of the Colombian Parmaculturist Daniel Jaramillo and Sara in their project Colombia Sostenible building a composting toilet unit with bottle brick walls in an island in the Colombian Caribbean. I also tested the idea when I went Santa Cruz del Islote, in the Caribbean, to help in a Health Brigade and to do a shore, underwater and town cleanup.

There was no garbage trucks to pick it up litter and  I didn´t have any trash bags. Empty plastic bottles were everywhere. With the help of the children and later meetings with the elders, the idea seemed to be worth trying.

A few years back I had seen the work of Andreas Froesse building incredible structures in a park with bottle bricks filled with sand or urbanite in Honduras. I lost track of him until he came to Colombia to teach and build a bathing pool for a hotel with sand- filled bottle bricks in 2005. I asked him if he would consider building with the bottlebricks filled with trash, and from them on we have been experimenting with the technique of reducing landfill waste and
using it for building.

Servant Leadership?

The innovative vision of Andreas Froesse seems to be developing momentum. Other pioneers seem to capture the altruistic spirit of servant leadership.  However, critics will suggest that the scheme is self-limiting, and dependent on the environmentally-unfriendly technology involved in the manufacture of PET plastic bottle. The schemes will require further creative leadership to achieve the dreams of the visionaries.


Image is from Solar Feeds

To go more deeply

See also
Sam Olukoya’s BBC report on the bottle Houses of Nigeria

World Architecture News

Peace One Day: The Adidas Puma Story

September 20, 2009

Peace One Day

The charity Peace One Day plays a part in peace initiatives around the world. On September 21st, among those symbolic actions were those taken by Puma and Adidas, two firms whose existence reflects a long-lasting family feud within a small Bavarian township

A news item this week [Sept 17th 2009] tells of the origins of the international sporting equipment firms Puma and Adidas. The point of the story was that the firms have been bitter rivals since splitting, over sixty years ago. Now, leaders of the rival firms were to make ‘a historic handshake’ as one of the Charity’s events planned for 21st Sept 2009.


Peace One Day (POD) was founded by film maker Jeremy Gilley in 1999. He was to became a publicist for and then partner in peace initiatives around the world. By 2006 he and POD wereassociated with various high-profile events with world leaders such as Kofi Annan, the Dalai Lama, Shimon Peres, and Mary Robinson.

Considerable praise has been heaped on both charity and the humanitarian leadership of its founder.

The organisation has survived critical setbacks: one high profile documentary filmed at the United Nations in New York lost much momentum as it took place as the twin towers disaster was unfolding a few miles across town.

The unique marketing concept of POD is the focussing of its events on the same day [September 21st] each year. There is no specific significance of the day historically.

The Adidas/Puma event of 2009

Herzogenaurach, Germany, 17 September 2009 – It will be a historic hand shake: In support of the peace initiative PEACE ONE DAY the two sportswear companies adidas and PUMA will shake hands for the first time after six decades. As a sign of amicable cooperation, employees of both companies will play football together on Peace Day, 21st of September, and subsequently watch the movie “The Day after Peace” by Jeremy Gilley, director and founder of PEACE ONE DAY. These events will be the first joint activities of both companies since their founders Rudolf and Adi Dassler left their shared firm and established Adidas and PUMA.

The Adidas Puma story seems right for a Hollywood movie. In the 1920s, two brothers grew up and worked in the laundry shop owned by their mother in the 1920s. They stared out together in business togther with a shared idea which created the marketing of clothing exclusively for sporting activities. In the 1930s they equipped Jesse Owens for the 1936 Olympics in Berlin [a story in itself]. But the brothers rarely agreed over anything, and sibling rivalry must have contributed to the split into two firms, still operating in close proximity in a little township in Bavaria.
The family rift is said to have deepened during the war, when a remark about “the B********s returning” during an air raid was taken as cruel rejection of members by one side of the family as others scrambled for the safety of an air raid shelter. It was later claimed the remark referred to a returning flight of Allied aircraft not to family members fleeing for their lives. Whatever, the story tells of a feud which was to split family and employees in the little village of Herzogenaurach for decades afterwards. Today, the old rivalries are mostly muted and symbolic. The Day of Peace celebrations confirm existing practical realities of life in the township.

Leadership Issues

The story introduces a range of leadership issues.

What strategy is suggested which might be of interest to establishing a not-for profit organization charity?

Might founder Jeremy Gilley be an example of servant leadership?

How important is symbolic leadership in establishing such an organization, and why?

What contribution might such efforts make to wider humanitarian efforts against war and towards peace processes?

Bobby Robson: Football’s Servant Leader

August 2, 2009

Bobby Robson

Bobby Robson loved football and served it well. He will also be remembered for an outstanding life lived with respect and warmth to everyone he met

Bobby Robson’s death came as no great surprise to countless friends and admirers around the World. He had witnessed a charity football match at the home of his beloved Newcastle United, one week ago [July 26th 2009].

A crowd of 33,000 turned out to honour former England and Newcastle manager Sir Bobby Robson at St James’ Park on Sunday. An England XI including several members of Robson’s 1990 World Cup squad took on a team of their German counterparts in a game to raise money for the 76-year-old’s own cancer charity.
Robson, in a wheelchair as he battles cancer for a fifth time, was introduced to both teams and presented with a lifetime achievement award by UEFA [Union des associations européennes de football] before kick-off. The match, which began after a stirring rendition of Italia 90 anthem Nessun Dorma, was intended as a replay of the Turin [World Cup] semi-final famously won on penalties by West Germany.

The numerous tributes on his death covered his sporting achievements which themselves would have warranted some international recognition. This outpouring of emotion was something else. The extra ingredient was for a life lived under intense media scrutiny. Graham Taylor, his successor as England’s Football Manager was deeply wounded by its intrusiveness and cruelty. Typically, Bobby Robson rode out press attention and associated criticism apparently unmoved. It must be said that Robson was less-savagely treated than was Taylor, and subsequent managers. Why might that have been the case?

Robson as Servant Manager

One of the less-explored ideas in business textbooks is that of the Servant Leader. The term is associated with work of Robert Greanleaf

The concept seems to be as admirable in theory as it is hard to live out in practice.

From time to time I have wondered about those nominated as examples such as Al Gore and Bill Gates. I remain rather unconvinced. For much of the time I followed the career of Bill Gates, he seemed to be somewhat unconcerned with deep ethical considerations as he pursued to goal of building Microsoft into a global empire.

Al Gore, a politician of undoubted green credentials had not left me with strong primary evidence of something special in his earlier career.

One of the difficulties is that the theory has a universalistic feel to it. The virtuous life is more likely to be espoused in some contexts than others. At one extreme, we might expect the values of servant leadership to match rather well in religious and educational contexts. Not so well in fiercely sporting contexts. And hardly at all well in business. Politics is a rather interesting case, with politicians careful to present themselves as espousing service to the people, while too often demonstrating practices of blatant self-serving careerism.

Robson: The something special

The something special about Bobby Robson seems to me to come from a coherent set of behaviours which reflected deeply held values. His life story fits well with religious and ethical principles. But Bobby hardly involved morality or higher purpose in his actions. Rather he captured his enthusiasm for a life in football, but also in keeping with respect for the needs of people with whom he came into contact. And particularly with the needs of young footballers on his teams.

The Bobby Robson Foundation

Robson’s fight against cancer has become well-known. His recently-formed charity follows the example set by another great football figure, Bobby Moore, who also died of the disease.

The charities fund much-needed research. I happen to support them, and wish them well. But the academic in me resists the conclusion that founding a charity adds to our understanding of Bobby Robson.

Somehow it seems as if the Bobby Robson Foundation confirms much that is being written about the man. On the other hand, charities can be founded as some kind of conscience bequest after a life that was far from enacting principles of servant leadership.

I can do no better that quote the man himself from an admirable BBC Obituary

In his 2005 autobiography Farewell but not Goodbye, Robson said of the experience [of receiving a civic honour] “A number of [Newcastle City] councillors wrote to me to say they had never seen so much emotion in a ceremony of that kind. Perhaps it was because I had talked about my father, and how he went down the pit white and came up black, in an area where the two colours symbolise a city’s love of football, a love that burns within me and will never fade.” It is a fitting way to sum up Robson’s obsession with the ‘beautiful game’.


The memorial service in Durham Cathedral [September 21st 2009] was simple and magnificent.