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Obituary: AMI contributor Robin Anderson dies

by Rob Spalding

The epitome of the dedicated, all-hours journalist, Robin Anderson has died, aged 71.

He will be remembered most recently as the communications officer for EFAPCO, the European Federation of Professional Congress Organisers, for whom he worked almost from its inception. But he was also a regular and prolific freelance journalist within the meetings industry.

Throughout his life, Robin was always reliable. Ask him to meet you in a certain bar in any city in the world at a certain date and time and there he would be. Always with a deprecating smile, usually with a beer ready poured.

Having grown up in Sussex, he began working on local newspapers, eventually moving to Nottingham, where a journalists’ strike in 1979 propelled him into the world of local government and he became Nottingham’s Conference Officer, with an assistant called Marion. The parallels with Robin Hood, Maid Marion and the Sheriff of Nottingham, were just too perfect to overlook.

He later excelled as a trade journalist and covered most of the main meetings business events with skill and dexterity – collecting a huge store of trade brochures wherever he went and which he never relinquished. He was a charming, witty yet diffident companion, who had his moments, as when he danced solo at a press reception beneath a Viennese chandelier.

To anyone who knew him, Robin was, above all else, optimistic. It was this trait in his character which kept him going and gave heart to others.  Indeed, he was enthusing about his ‘new treatment’ which he did so often about many medical procedures during his life, just before he died trying it.

He was optimistic enough to start a publishing venture in the meetings industry with the magazine ‘Delegates’, which lasted around 10 years, before becoming a freelance journalist for several meetings publications including CAT Media titles.

Close friend and colleague Susan Spibey, executive board chair of the Institute of Event Management, who first met Robin in 1988, was ‘absolutely devastated’ by the news, having earlier arranged to speak with him the day following his sudden death. Together, they had started on the framework for a book on the ‘modern history of events’.

James Beresford, former CEO of Visit England who worked at Nottinghamshire County Council alongside Robin, said:  “Robin was of course a first class journalist.  Those skills, when coupled with a keen eye for organisation and a great sense of occasion, meant he was the ideal person to create and develop Conference Nottingham as one of the UK’s most successful conference bureaux.  Under Robin’s astute leadership Conference Nottingham became a public/private sector model that many other cities tried to emulate.  He was without doubt an innovator in the field. What set Robin apart, however, was his charm, humour and ability to make everyone feel part of the wider Nottingham ‘team’.  He achieved much and will be greatly missed”

He will be greatly missed at many levels in the meetings industry for which he did so much, so well, for so long.

Robin, who was married three times, leaves two children and six step children.