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Robert Jenkins

Film and music lover

Film and music lover

Born: January 8, 1952; Died: November 29, 2013

ROBERT Jenkins, who died in the Clutha helicopter tragedy at the age of 61, was a career-long Scottish Gas employee who, after retirement, became an extra on TV programmes including his beloved Rab C. Nesbitt.

Mr Jenkins, best-known to his pals as Rab, also appeared as an extra on Fields of Blood, River City, Garrow's Law and Single Father filmed at Partick Thistle's Firhill stadium with David Tennant in 2010.

He was extremely well-read and a film buff who could be seen from the age of 13 at the Cosmo picture house in Rose Street (now the Glasgow Film Theatre), Glasgow, watching subtitled foreign films by directors such as Ingmar Bergman along with a few like-minded school pals.

Until shortly before his death, he still attended the GFT regularly, usually to see challenging or educational films, and he was looking forward to the opening of the new GFT 3. He was also passionate about music from classic to country or rock, particularly anything with a guitar involved, and was a veritable encyclopaedia on music, especially that of the 1960s.

In the weeks before the Clutha tragedy, he had attended Glasgow concerts by Bob Dylan at the Clyde auditorium and T.Rextasy at the Pavilion Theatre on Renfield Street. In the words of one of his childhood and lifelong friends, Jim Doyle: "One thing that keeps me going through this whole thing is that I know he died with a pint in his hand and listening to music. If he could have selected a way to go, this would have been exactly what he would have chosen."

Mr Jenkins had been listening to the Glasgow ska band Esperanza when the police helicopter crashed into the roof of the Clutha, the gaelic name for the river Clyde. His partner Mary was farther from the bar and was bundled out, shocked but unharmed, into Stockwell Street by other customers amid the debris and chaos, and restrained from going back in to look for Robert. As it happened, Esperanza had been one of many Glasgow bands Mr Jenkins informally promoted, by word of mouth or on Facebook.

In the many eulogies published on Facebook and elsewhere after Mr Jenkins was named as one of the victims, the word that cropped up most was "gentleman". He was indeed, his friends said, "the most gentle of men, who just got on with it, looked after his family and paid his bills on time".

Perhaps after his two daughters, his greatest pride was his native city and he had been looking forward to helping out with next year's Commonwealth Games in any way he could.

Mr Doyle said: "Robert was that rare creature, a proud Glaswegian who would go and see both Celtic and Rangers on alternate weeks, never understanding why religion had anything to do with football."

Since the turn of the millennium, Mr Jenkins had taken part annually in the Great North Run, the half-marathon from Newcastle to South Shields, to raise money for charities including leukaemia and lymphoma research. And he was more than just a reader of The Herald: in his usual highly-literate style, he wrote regular letters to the paper on subjects which tickled his fancy or ruffled his feathers.

Robert James Jenkins was born in Balornock, Springburn, and grew up and went to primary school there. He later went to St Augustine's in Milton, north Glasgow, where he developed his love of literature with the help of his English teacher Charles Langan.

When his family moved south of the river to Shawlands, he went to Holyrood Secondary School, a short walk from what would become one of his favourite places, Hampden Park. He spent some time in Beith, Ayrshire, after his father, a sales rep for Atlas Express, was moved there but was soon back in Glasgow.

After the death of his mother Ellen, who had been an auxiliary nurse with the Samaritans, young Robert became even closer to his father Andrew. When he left school, he first got a job as a clerk with the National Savings Bank in Cowglen, south Glasgow, later with a travel agent's but finally finding his niche with Scottish Gas, where he would work for almost 30 years, latterly based at Murdoch House in Uddingston, close to the M74.

He had started in Scottish Gas's radio room in Glasgow, dispatching engineers to people's homes but he loved his work in Uddingston as a customers' services representative, where he enjoyed chatting to customers, helping them calm down in boiler emergencies until their problem was solved.

He met Margaret, a schoolteacher of English, at a party in the West End and they married in 1973. She died of cancer in 2006, a devastating blow to him and their two daughters.

In advance of his eulogy for today's service at Linn Crematorium, Mr Jenkins's friend Ken Eadie, a celebrant of the Humanist Society Scotland, said: "Robert's family would like to thank all the men and women of Glasgow's emergency services for their dedication and professionalism on November 29. They would also like to thank Dougie and Gregor, the police liaison officers for bereaved families, for their care, kindness and compassion at this difficult time."

Mr Jenkins is survived by his daughters Claire and Elaine, his partner Mary and his sister Fiona.

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