Absent Friends

The end of August 2015 saw us suddenly, and sadly, saying goodbye to Bob Ratts of Barwell, Leicestershire. Larger than life itself, Bob was not one to shrink from a challenge and although suffering from breathing problems and using a mobility scooter when necessary, Bob was the life and soul of any occasion! Indeed, so popular was the man that the Queen’s Head (Barwell) is commissioning a plaque in his memory to sit on the wall where ‘he drank’ – there can be no fairer testament than that!

Any family death is a major shock, especially a sudden death, but we must be grateful that Bob simply went to bed as normal on Tuesday night, 24th August….. and simply never woke up the next morning, thus he knew no pain, any discomfort, but simply passed peacefully into that world which knows no ills, nor worries, nor troubles-only heavenly bliss. Those left behind have to bear the strain and our deepest sympathies go to his wife Pat, his daughter Tracey, her brother Lee & grandson Jack (who idolized his Grandad), and, of course, the rest of the family.

The funeral was held at Nuneaton Crematorium, Monday 7th Sept  –  free to attend if you can. There will be a celebration of Bob’s life in The Queens Head, Barwell, after the funeral and the family has kindly asked for donations (instead of flowers) to be sent to this charity by cheque or online at https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/philjohnson1  which means that Bob’s name will continue through the work we do

To Bob Ratts, the man that was larger than life, may you rest in peace, my friend!

nb: the family has asked for any donations to go to the  “20-20 Voice” Cancer charity – you can log on to their MyDonate page here. Thank you.

I can now tell you that family & friends raised a superb £237.03p regarding “Bob’s Bash” and that sum is gratefully received by this charity which will continue to work hard to help head & neck, cancer patients. Thank you all.


In early February (2014) we had to say a sad farewell to Ann Burrows, wife of Jim Burrows who lived in Loughborough and was firm supporters of “20-20 Voice” Cancer and made sure they attended whatever functions were held at the Fennel Street Club in Loughborough. Family & friends collected monies to go to our charity as that is what Ann & Jim both wanted. We thank you for that as we near our target-may you rest in peace Ann.


We have to say goodbye to our friend Mick Hollis who passed away on Dec 18th in the LRI. Mick was suffering from mouth cancer. The funeral was held on 6th Jan 2014 and those attending have kindly donated £130.00 to “20-20 Voice” Cancer-for which we are very grateful indeed. The sooner this awful type of cancer is detected at a far earlier stage, the sooner we begin to save people from unnecessary suffering.

Our sincerest condolences go to his partner Jo Rate, who says that she is going to hold a car boot sale in Mick’s name when the weather is warmer-what a lovely gesture this is.


Helen Willson  (11/4/53) who lived in Barrow-upon-Soar with her husband Rob, sadly passed away on August 4th, 2013 after fighting this awful disease for 12 months.

I have received a delightful letter from Helen’s husband, Rob, who tells me that he is convinced that “had his wife been diagnosed in far quicker time, she would still be here with us”-apparently “it took 5 long months from seeing her GP to ‘radio/chemo’ beginning”: that is far too long folks!

Family & friends had kindly (at Rob’s behest) donated to the “20-20 Voice” Cancer Appeal as they too want faster diagnosis in the future so that people with throat cancer (or possible throat cancer)  do actually have the chance of life and with the fantastic piece of equipment that we are almost in a position to purchase this is something that we firmly believe in ourselves and are actively pursuing-with all due speed & diligence.

Rob has kindly granted me permission to print these details so I would like to add, for all those who wonder why they struggle to swallow properly, sleep properly, sound croaky for no apparent reason, have an irritating ‘tickly’ throat/cough constantly or any other puzzling symptoms relating to this area, to get to your doctor and insist on an emergency 2-week appointment at the Leicester Royal Infirmary (or whatever your local hospital maybe) and get checked out, for there has been a dramatic 600% increase in throat cancers over the past decade.

I would also point out that Helen was virtually tee-total & never smoked yet became a victim of this terrible disease; the above statistics point out why! So never think ‘it can’t happen to me!

We now know that early detection is the key and that is why we are so grateful to brave people like Rob and his family/friends who take our line of thought and want to help us to diagnose this disease BEFORE it takes a monster hold of a loved one!

Helen, may I just say that your passing will not be in vain, for your life will be celebrated by all those that are to come,  through the work of the “20-20 Voice” Cancer Appeal, but they will all benefit from the knowledge and vital equipment gained along the way; it will be your legacy to others. R.I.P Helen.


April 1st saw one of our stalwarts leave us as Gordon Hipwell passed away after a short stay in the hospital, caused after suffering a stroke, from which he never really recovered. Gordon had been a ‘lary’ for a good number of years and always attended the Leicester Lary Club meetings, on the last Wednesday of every month, with his wife Brenda.

Gordon was 82 and leaves behind his loving wife Brenda, son Michael & 3 grandchildren to whom we offer our sincerest condolences. The funeral was held at Enderby Parish Church, Thursday 18th of April.


Unfortunately, we had to say goodbye to old friend Norman Martin (87) who passed away peacefully Monday, 17th December 2012. Our sincerest wishes go to Norman’s family and hope that 2013 is a better year for them all.


Sadly we have to say goodbye to our friend & fellow ‘lary’

“Sandy” Robson

aged 66, (born Alexander Robson) passed away on 16th July 2012.
“Sandy” underwent a laryngectomy in 2005, giving him a new lease of life which he enjoyed with vigor, especially trips to the caravan at Skegness. The funeral is to be held at Loughborough Crematorium on Tuesday, 31st July @ 2.45.

“Sandy” wanted no flowers, instead it has been requested that donations be made to benefit fellow head & neck, cancer patients. This can be done very simply by clicking on the ‘Donate’ button online, contacting us online at [email protected]

or sending your cheque to “20-20 VOICE” Cancer (at 37, Windley Road, Leicester. LE2 6QX)

Of course, we at “20-20″ send our sincerest condolences to Phyllis, Mandy, Annette & Martin, and the many friends that Sandy left behind. We  would like to re-iterate his friend (Mick Stevenson) words – “Sandy might be gone, but he’ll never be forgotten, I’ll tell ye that”