Austin Hobbs obituary

Other lives: Old-school bank manager whose work took him to the agricultural and coastal communities of the south-west

My father, Austin Hobbs, who has died aged 91, was an old-fashioned bank manager whose work took him to the agricultural and coastal communities of the south-west. He started work for the National Provincial Bank, later NatWest, in 1952, at a time when statements were still handwritten and posted from local branches.

Austin was born on a farm in North Tawton, Devon, the fourth of five brothers. When the family moved to Morwenstow in north Cornwall, he remained in Devon as a boarder at Okehampton grammar school, and in 1949 did national service in the army, an immensely formative period that he considered his university education. His first journey east of Exeter ultimately took him through the Suez canal to Mogadishu in Somalia and later to Cyprus with the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry.

He had a natural talent for sport, and back in the UK played full-back for Launceston rugby club and captained a Cornish youth team. He was renowned for his placekicking. When his boot brought victory in a close match, the local newspaper ran the headline “Hobbs does it again”.

Austin Hobbs, holding the ball, was captain of a Cornwall rugby youth team in the early 1950s
Austin Hobbs, holding the ball, was captain of a Cornwall rugby youth team in the early 1950s Photograph: Family photograph

In 1957 he married Mary Clogg, the sister of his rugby teammate Ted. David, Simon and I were born soon after. His job meant he moved around the south-west: Bude, Callington, Torquay, Swanage, St Austell, Crediton, Teignmouth, North Tawton and back to Bude. He was on numerous committees for schools, sports clubs, the church and charities – more than 30 over his lifetime. He had an easy way with people, and conversations usually ended in laughter. At North Tawton he invited a neighbour, Ted Hughes, the poet laureate, to be a guest at a banking dinner, and when the poet was unable to attend at short notice, he instead took another Hughes, Reg, the proprietor of the local Bloggs garage.

Having returned to manage the Bude branch, where he had started his career, he retired early, in 1988, and was for a while president of the town’s Rotary club. After the death of David in 2000, he threw himself into fundraising for Cancer Research UK, helping to raise more than £100,000 in the south Devon village of Shaldon, to where he and Mary had retired.

He moved to Market Harborough, in Leicestershire, in 2015 to be near Simon after Mary’s death. It was a new lease of life for him. Through volunteering at the local parkrun he became well known in the town. His regular marshalling spot in Welland Park, where he stood 233 times, became known as Austin’s Corner.

Dad was open-minded, generous and cheerful to the end, and cared about the world his grandchildren are growing up in. He was, by the end, a pro-European Green voter.

He is survived by his children Simon and me, seven grandchildren, and his brothers George and Harold.

James Hobbs

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
John Henderson obituary
Other lives: Artist who took inspiration from the landscape of Cornwall, where he lived for much of his life

Kate Henderson

19, Apr, 2022 @4:26 PM

Article image
Austin Wormleighton obituary
Other lives: Journalist, biographer and art historian

Paul Hannon

06, Jun, 2019 @5:18 PM

Article image
Mona Warren obituary
Other lives: Solicitor who became a Labour councillor and vice-chair of Hertfordshire county council

Mike Sheaff

19, Jan, 2022 @6:56 PM

Article image
Jeremy Hobbs obituary
Other lives: Executive director of Oxfam International dedicated to tackling the root causes of poverty

Pauline Martin-Alvarez

26, Sep, 2022 @6:45 PM

Article image
Anne Edmonds obituary
Other lives: Marine software publisher in south Devon who conducted business in six languages

David Edmonds

25, Feb, 2022 @3:06 PM

Article image
Graham Hoare obituary
Other lives: Maths teacher involved in setting up the Royal Institution’s mathematical masterclasses

Tom Doust

26, Jan, 2021 @6:22 PM

Article image
Geoff Leeming obituary
Other lives: Community development worker helping vulnerable people in Plymouth, where he lived for nearly 50 years

Michael Vizard

22, Sep, 2020 @6:46 PM

Article image
John Maltby obituary
Other Lives: Ceramic artist who took up his trade after meeting the potter Bernard Leach

Nigel Dutt

15, Jan, 2021 @10:18 AM

Article image
Heather Jansch obituary
Other lives: Artist who specialised in creating images of the horse in driftwood and bronze

Kieron Jansch

03, Aug, 2021 @5:16 PM

Article image
Nicolas Cottis obituary
Other lives: Journalist, poet and jazz musician who performed regularly in Devon

Tamsin Cottis

22, Jul, 2021 @4:28 PM