Rob Trueblood obituary

Other lives: Geography teacher and trade unionist who spent much of his spare time on local community campaigns

My brother Rob Trueblood, who has died aged 73, was a teacher, trade unionist and community activist.

Rob was born in Benin City, Nigeria, where our mother, Megan (nee Hughes), was working as a midwife and our father, Alf, an agronomist, was carrying out research into palm oil.

At an early age he was sent to live with our maternal grandparents, Lizzie and Jack, in Blaenavon, South Wales, a place that remained special to him. When Megan and I returned from Nigeria, he moved to live in Hereford with us until Alf also returned, after which there was a further move to Manchester, our father’s home town.

There Rob won a scholarship to Cheadle Hulme school, going on to the University of Bristol to study geography. Returning to Manchester in the early 1970s, he settled in Prestwich and from 1974 to 2000 taught geography in Bolton, first at Harper Green school and then at the Deane school. During this time he became a long-serving secretary of his NUT branch and a member of the Labour party, although at heart he was a Marxist.

After a period working as a project manager in Oldham for the Groundwork charity, tackling poverty in the area, he switched to Hopwood Hall Further Education College in Rochdale, where he moved out of teaching and into administration, helping with the physical redevelopment of the college’s facilities on campus. He was still there when he retired in 2009.

Outside working hours, if Rob was not at a meeting he was often on a march – unless, that is, he was striding across the Lancashire moorland, climbing a Scottish mountain or walking along a city canal in Manchester. He loved to be outdoors and on the move, allowing his inquiring mind to develop a rich picture of his surroundings and how history had shaped them. He had a deep knowledge of history, geography and politics – along with the books to prove it – and to walk with him was to gain from the benefits of this insight and understanding.

Locally he initiated and was involved in many community campaigns and projects, including the Fallowfield Loop off-road cycle path in south Manchester and the Artisan Naturalists, a local history project.

In retirement he spent much of his time volunteering at Philips Park, a nature reserve in Prestwich, helping with grant applications but also clearing weeds and maintaining fencing and paths.

In 2020 he became ill with pulmonary fibrosis and eventually was on oxygen 24 hours a day. Although confined to his house in Prestwich, he continued to take an interest in local politics and community activities. Thanks in part to him, the green he could see out of his bedroom window will not be sold off by the council but instead will become a community garden.

He is survived by his daughter, Megan, her mother, Jo Smith, and by me.

Chris Trueblood

The GuardianTramp

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