VIDEO: Steyning tree planting in memory of Robin French

A SECOND tree has been planted in memory of an Upper Beeding parish councillor who was known for his bubbly enthusiasm.

Robin French, who died suddenly on October 31, 2011, aged 57, was an active member of the community in Steyning and Upper Beeding,

S10037H13 Celebrating the planting of a memorial tree for Robin French in Steyning

S10037H13 Celebrating the planting of a memorial tree for Robin French in Steyning

A ceremony attended by his widow, Mary French, family and friends was held in Steyning on Friday, where a holm oak was planted on the Memorial Playing Field.

The tree was sponsored by Steyning and District Business Chamber in memory of Robin’s work in the local community, which included being on the committee of the former chamber of trade.

Speaking at the planting ceremony, George Cockman, Horsham district councillor for Steyning, described Robin as “the yeast in the bread” – the sort of person who brings things to life.

“Robin was one of those people, involved in so many spheres of activity here in Steyning and in Beeding,” he added.

“He was an absolutely wonderful person to have around.”

Upper Beeding Parish Council had previously planted an oak for Robin, in Hyde Street Open Space, in May last year.

“He must be about the only person to have a tree planted to him in both Upper Beeding and Steyning and it’s a great idea and it’s a lovely tree,” added Mr Cockman.

Robin worked at Steyning Magistrates’ Court as the caretaker and senior court usher, before the Court House closed, and Mary worked in the office there, too.

She added: “Robin worked in Steyning and the surrounding villages, was an Upper Beeding parish vouncillor, which he thoroughly enjoyed, and also was on the Steyning and District Chamber of Trade committee, Community Partnership Committee, and Visitor and Tourism Group.”

Robin ran his own handyman and gardening services business in the last few years of his life and had many regular customers in Steyning, Upper Beeding and surrounding villages.

Mary added: “He supported the Steyning Country Fair and especially the Steyning Christmas lights and late-night Christmas shopping evening – and invariably would be seen selling raffle tickets each year in the bus shelter, or walking round with a bucket for donations.

“He was keen to promote the chamber, and set up a table at these events showing business cards and flyers from chamber members.”

He was the Upper Beeding “contact” for the Steyning and District Chamber of Trade, now Steyning and District Business Chamber.

Steyning Parish Council agreed a site for the tree, near the Newham Lane entance, and arranged for a bench to be sited nearby.

Those attending the ceremony included parish council chairman David Barling, Ian Ivatt, former chairman of Steyning Chamber of Trade, members of the business chamber and Steyning and District Community Partnership, as well as family and friends.