Wed, 24 July, 2024

Roy Mobbs

Posted: October 28th, 2019

WE are sad to record the death of ROY MOBBS, who died on 11 June, 2019, writes CARO CLUSKEY. Roy was a long-time Mirror cashier and a dedicated supporter of the AMP. I kept in touch with Roy via email after we featured his story in Mirror Pensioner in October, 2016. He remained cheerful despite ill-health caused by the injuries he sustained during a violent payroll robbery in 1956. He was devoted to his wife Pat, and was very touched that her passing was recorded in Mirror Pensioner. I shall miss Roy’s impish sense of humour. Here’s an extract from our feature, in Roy’s own words:

My story began in the early hours of Sunday, December 2, 1956, nearly 60 years ago. I was 24. In those days you could buy a newspaper for less than five pence in old money, about 2.5p today.

As a day-cashier I was working overtime on Saturday nights paying the Sunday Mirror casuals, plus the regulars on the machine and publishing floors at Geraldine House, Stamford Street (just over the river) and Back Hill in Clerkenwell. What memories those names bring.

We were picked up at about 1a.m. with the cash, and transported in an old pre-war Daimler that looked as if it should have been at a funeral. There was loads of room in the back of the car, and we stretched out even with our bags of cash in front of us.

This particular night Eric Newson, who was in charge, decided, unusually, to join us and sat in front with the driver. I sat in the back with Bill Wrout, an ex-army Sergeant Major. We set off but only got as far as the White Horse pub, or Barney’s as it was popularly known, when we were rammed by a newspaper van coming out of the side street.

After that it all became pretty chaotic and I ended up in the road wondering what had happened and what the heck was I lying on. I had grabbed my bag and held on to it, but was dragged from the car and hit again and again until I let go.

As the robbers made their getaway, pub landlord Barney, who had been woken up by all the noise, came down and served brandy to everyone – except yours truly (something I held against him afterwards). I was bleeding profusely and taken to Bart’s hospital for treatment.

I was interviewed by Peter Woods (he was a star reporter on the Daily Mirror then, and went on to become a BBC newsreader). Suddenly – bingo! I was in the papers. In recognition of my efforts to save the company’s cash, Cecil King presented me with a solid silver cigarette case. He asked as a hasty afterthought: “You do smoke, don’t you?” I did, at the time.

And I was presented with a cheque for £50 by James Cooke from finance. With that I had a two-piece suit made to measure.  The culture of suing was not the thing then, or I might have been rich – security was nil.

After I was well enough, I continued to work in the cashiers and moved to the new building with them. When the new computer payroll system didn’t really work we hired more comptometer operators to improve things. It was then that I met and married Patricia, one of those girls who could use all her fingers at once on the machine.

I was in charge of wages make-up and responsible for hundreds of thousands of pounds, but my earlier ordeal had taken its toll and I showed signs of epilepsy. The medics put it down to the beating I had taken. They could not let me continue with my then responsibilities, so the company offered me a lesser post in another department – or retirement.

I discussed it with my dear wife Pat and chose retirement – it was an offer I couldn’t refuse.
So in 1975 I became a Mirror pensioner.
I was 44.
And for 40 years I have been an old man.

Before my Pat died, she lived in a nursing home following a massive stroke in November 2014. I used to visit her every day, and we would talk about old times together.
In the early days after I left the Mirror, the union found me odd jobs. Then I heard the Press Association needed someone with wages experience. I joined them and stayed for 11 years and am in receipt of my PA pension.
I retired from the Press Association in 1990, and Pat and I covered a lot of the world on holiday after that.
Before her illness, for 15 years Pat organised a monthly speaker for the local Active Retirement Association, and for 14 years I was called “Editor” of its monthly newsletter. I was rather proud of that.
I worked for the Mirror for 29 years, and have been a pensioner for 40 yars and counting.
I’m still alive (only just). I suffer from cerebellum ataxia, a result of my head injury.
But I’ve just bought myself a mobility scooter in case I have to give up the car.
Tried it out. Could be fun.

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