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Robin McIlchere

Businessman and artist;

AN APPRECIATION

Robin McIlchere, who has died aged 67, was a baker, confectioner, businessman and artist whose subjects were usually scenes of Kintyre that held a special place in his memory.

He was born and brought up in Campbeltown and shared a happy childhood with his siblings Campbell and Jennifer.

He had an artistic flair and while at school expressed a desire to go to art college but left school at 16 to enter the family grocery business founded in 1906 by his grandfather, Hector McIlchere.

The McIlchere business expanded with shops in Campbeltown, Tarbert and Lochgilphead. They also developed a bakery using old family recipes, which provided goods to these and other outlets over Kintyre and Islay.

As the business grew, he and his brother opened the Golden Grain Bakery and went on to develop an export market, particularly for shortbread and meringues. They became a major employer in the town but the business went into liquidation in 1982.

Robin returned to the shop in Main Street, the bakery returned to the premises in Longrow and he started again. He developed the skills of a confectioner and his artistic abilities were apparent in the beautiful and much admired wedding and celebration cakes.

Always looking for a new challenge, he developed a business based in Brussels importing Scottish produce such as whisky, salmon, monkfish and shellfish into the European market.

This stage in his career came to an end when he developed progressive lung problems. Initially he was admitted to hospital in Brussels then returned to Scotland. Following further investigation he was diagnosed with Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, which causes premature ageing of the lungs, and given a life expectancy of five years.

In his early years, Robin was a keen sailor and spent many happy hours sailing Flook, his flying fifteen yacht. As a founder member and secretary of Campbeltown Sailing Club he was instrumental in establishing contact and arranging regattas with Cushendall Sailing and Boating Club in County Antrim. This alliance across the North Channel continues to this day with annual visits and firm friendships.

He started painting in 2001, once he became largely housebound, in a studio ("shed") in the garden. His first paintings were immature but he quickly developed his own style especially after moving from watercolours to oils.

In the last few years he painted under the name of ROLAMI (Robin Lang McIlchere) exhibiting at the Campbeltown and Loch Fyne Art Shows as well as the Archway Gallery in Lochgilphead.

He coped with his long illness with good humour and courage and always maintained an interest in others. He frequently escaped into his memories and his paintings were a place to lose himself from the reality of his progressive condition.

A bright white star, with known space coordinates, in a far-off constellation in the Milky Way has been officially named after him, Wee Robbie.

Robin is survived by his wife Irene and daughters Jilly, Louise and Jane.

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