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By The Faversham Creek Trust

Bob Telford, boat enthusiast and one of the founder members of the Faversham Creek Trust, died recently on April 9th. He was drawn to the work of the Trust through his love of boats and boating and he was right behind the primary aim of the Trust, which was to stop the decline of Faversham Creek through regenerating the creek basin and by the development of the Purifier Building as a working boat building project. 

Bob’s background as a production engineer and systems analyst led him to make major contributions to the early technical development of FCT around 2011, writes Val Honeyben, Company Secretary until 2014. The Board committee was negotiating with the Charity Commission to obtain charitable status and the need for functioning data management systems was key, as was a demonstration of community involvement and functioning membership governance. Bob's IT contribution was therefore vital as we worked through a process of reaching out into the community and developing a membership structure to engage with the wider community, separate from the Board Structure. It was an exciting, as well as demanding and complex, time and I remember really appreciating Bob's input in all manner of issues. 

His sense of fun, enthusiasm and willingness to come up with new ideas and then to follow things through, contributed greatly to the Trust’s early successes.  He also did a lot of the legwork to secure the capital dredging licence for the creek basin from the Marine Management Organisation in 2014, which was an education and achievement in itself, comments Philippa Dickenson who worked on the licence application with him - I will greatly miss his knowledge, perspicacity and tenacity.

He was good friends with Simon Foster, another titan of the Creek and was passionate about all things to do with water, particularly the quality of the water. He joined Surfers Against Sewage soon after they were established and was also a founding member of the Faversham Creek Navigation Co, together with Colin Frake, Eric Green and Brian Pain, notes Eldon Hinchliffe. He was a link to other organisations through his membership of the Medway and Swale Boating Association and was an active (interfering?!) member of Medway Swale Estuary Partnership where he represented the interests of FCT and Friends of the Lower Halstow Brickfield / Lower Halstow creek and Dock points out Judy Telford. He was also a member of the Kent Sailing Association. 

Chris Wright, former Chair of the Trust, commented that his detailed knowledge of the north Kent coast and sensitive appreciation of its heritage value meant that he played a valuable role in the development of the 2015 Creek Neighbourhood Plan, representing the Trust on the Steering group led by the Town Council. He supported the Trust throughout its campaign for the restoration of an opening bridge, a campaign that continues to this day.

And Alan Thorne reminds us of his eye for detail, coupled with his production engineering background, which lives on in the Purifier Building. Think of Bob every time you close the outer door on the Purifier Building. He designed those special hinges! He was a perfectionist which was not always easy to accommodate when doing work for him on his wooden boat, Idle Duck. Halfway through implementing a project, Bob would dream up another, superior design which meant starting over again. He persevered with the restoration of Idle Duck which was completed to a high standard, a couple of years ago. He loved live music and had a wide selection of music on board his boat. He told numerous, very interesting stories from his work at Marconi, Lotus and DeLorean sports cars as well as Contessa yachts. A generous and caring man, always eager to encourage training in the workshop. Five years ago, it was Bob’s idea to start building St Ayles’ skiffs.  Thanks to this suggestion, there are now two in Conyer, four in Faversham and a fifth under construction. Thank you, Bob. 

His interest and involvement with the Trust continued until his last few months, informally rather than as a serving trustee. As Sixer points out, he was a mainstay for the Creek Trust and a tireless worker for the good of the creek: a highly knowledgeable and likeable man. 

He is already much missed. 


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