“Remembering Robin Gibb as the Ambassador for SBID” by Vanessa Brady OBE (SBID)

Vanessa with Robin (July 17, 2011)
Photo: Courtesy of SBID

<Click to enlarge>

In 2011, Robin Gibb took up the role as the Ambassador for SBID (Society of British and International Design).  In June 2014, Vanessa Brady, Founding President of SBID, was awarded an OBE for her outstanding services to the design industry.  On this memorable occasion, she remembered how Robin had helped her in time of need and wrote this moving piece for us.  


When I told Robin about the issues interior designers face from theft of ideas and the problem creatives have to earn a living from their own idea, he said, ‘I didn’t know it was as bad as that. How can I help?’ He then introduced me to CISAC the global organisation for copyright protection of creatives. He arranged for me to go to Paris with his manager for the day to have a meeting with the aim of including interior design within his mission to create fairness for all creators.

I have to say that he was also very funny, he was more than helpful and he was a kind man.

His right-hand man Michael Garbutt arranged everything for the trip and the doors were opened to me to help establish the Society of British and International Design (SBID). Even when Robin knew he was seriously ill, he still agreed to come to Paris and launch the SBID International Design Awards for me. On that morning he was taken ill and didn’t make it to the car, but just like Robin, he and Dwina his wife were concerned about letting me down. It seemed to me that the awards were completely unimportant when compared with human life and well-being. They were both grateful to me. That was his generosity and Dwina’s earth mother core. They were both givers, and Dwina looked after Robin tirelessly from what I could see, and I’m sure that was a tough role. Nobody wants to see their family in pain.

Robin arranged to go to the theatre with myself and John Whittingdale; Conservative MP Media, Sport and Culture Secretary. The three of us watched the play, "Yes Prime Minister" and it was adapted that night to include their presence. We sat in the Royal Box to watch the performance. A pillar was in-between Robin and myself, Robin always a cheeky rascal sprang from one side to the other like a little boy playing peekaboo with me. I thought, "Wow, he’s so ill but he just keeps going."

His aim for improvement and fairness is apparent in everything he did. He was a man who liked to be outrageous and shock but was always respectful. He didn’t drink, smoke or take drugs…not very rock and roll but I think the majority of people in the music industry are performers, not wild; they simply play a part.

Robin also met me at the RAF Club in Piccadilly to make a short film for our website. Looking at that film now, I can see he was very ill. At the end of the interview I said, "Thank-you for everything you are doing for us," and his face broke into a big smile, he tilted his head and said, "You are very welcome."

I saw him again in Shaftesbury Avenue when he gave an interview for Music Week. It was just a few months after we had been to the theatre, Robin was being interviewed about the Requiem that he had written with his son RJ.

One wet and rainy Sunday afternoon I went to meet Robin at his home in Oxford. Dwina and I walked around the garden while Robin got ready for our photo-shoot. I had a terrible cold and took every medication to stifle it. When Robin appeared; hair, tie, shirt, suit …he was immaculate, much more than I was.  I thought, "How can he look so great?" and I looked so awful. He did his usual thumb and smile for photos. He joked and told some funny stories about the dogs and we went off to have photos taken around the house. When we came back to the studio, RJ played some of the music from the Requiem to Robin and Robin added his changes. Dwina stood proudly watching both her men sing, write and perform. Looking back. I think it was a very a small window of time, but when I was establishing SBID, nobody would help me, some caused unnecessary obstruction and a Robin didn’t like an injustice. Robin was a global endorser and his support helped me when I needed it most, but more importantly to me, he did it from the goodness of his heart, not for a fee but out of a pure heart for justice.

With a terminal illness, there would have been days when he didn’t feel like pushing himself or getting out of bed but he often did it anyway. I can only say what I know to be true, and for me Robin Gibb was a very generous of spirit, kind, funny and humble man.

I attended his funeral. Dwina wrote and read a moving poem. It was one of those moments when you saw people you knew but everyone walked about without speaking. Chatting and smiling seemed in poor taste. When I looked across the cemetery, I saw Michael Garbutt clearly in shock. It was strange because lots of people came to watch. TV stations and photographers surrounded the church, and among that public distraction was a very private moment where a lifetime of friendships and family gathered to accept that Robin had gone. I will always be grateful for the support he gave me when most people in his position would have sat back and done nothing.

— Vanessa Brady

Thank you, Vanessa, for sharing your beautiful memories with us. Vanessa is not only a successful business person but also an excellent creative talent herself.  Maybe that’s why she has so successfully captured in this touching piece the essence of Robin as the charming person that he was.  That also brought me back a lot of memories.  I especially remembered the time when Robin and I were in a crowded room back when we were still quite young.  Someone, maybe a waiter, happened to come up and stood between Robin and me.  Then, he sort of sprang up and bent to the side so that I could see him beaming at me…"like playing a peekaboo."  Without a doubt, Robin was one of the funniest men I have ever met in my life.  I still laugh and cry at the same time when I think of some of the jokes he told me; some quite corny and others, quoting from Vanessa, rather "outrageous."

We would like to thank Vanessa and SBID for kindly letting us use the photo.  It was taken during the July 17, 2011 photo shoot that Vanessa describes above.  Looking at this beautiful photo, you would never know that she was stifling a terrible cold. Also, you can just see the RIAA disc for "Here At Last" on the wall behind them!

´╝łThanks: Vanessa Brady, SBID; West One Pacific)

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