The Old Diocesan Issue5 Mar2020 - Page 82

Wife of Chippy Robinson (Staff 1950-1977)
Bishops stalwarts Chippy and Maggie Robinson.
Maggie Robinson (née Mellish)
was born on 8 December 1926,
the only child of Frank and Nancy
Mellish. (Frank Mellish is still the only
man to have played rugby for both
South Africa and England.) She had
a happy childhood in Port Elizabeth
where, inheriting her love for parties
from her father and her musicality
from her mother, she cut quite a dash
as a tap dancer and child actress.
The Mellish family had moved to
Cape Town by the start of World War
II, and as soon as Maggie matriculated,
aged 17, she joined the South African
Women’s Auxiliary Naval Service.
Long before Nelson Mandela
got there, she kept guard over
Cape Town from Robben Island.
When the war ended, Nancy and
Maggie boarded a boat to England
to meet Frank, who had taken part
in the East African and North African
campaigns before working his way
up Italy with the South African army.
It was while in London that Maggie
met Chippy, Sir Wilfred Robinson,
also returning from the war. That
marked the start of a lifelong
romance not only with Chippy –
they became engaged in London
in 1945 – but also with Britain.
“By my count, Maggie Robinson touched the lives of more
than 2,000 Bishops boys. She had a huge impact.”
– OD, 1973
Back in Cape Town, Maggie married
Chippy at the age of 19. They would
go on to have three children: Ling,
Peter and Clemmie. Chippy began
teaching at Bishops in 1950 and would
continue to do so until his retirement
in 1977, filling the roles of housemaster
of both School House and Gray House,
as well as vice-principal, along the way.
Maggie, unsurprisingly, enthralled
several generations of Bishops boys
as Chippy’s beautiful and vivacious
wife. But she was much more than
that: she was the rock of her family.
As her son Peter Robinson (1966S)
said in his eulogy, she instilled in
them her love of literature, art, old
movies (mostly starring Humphrey
Bogart) and music of all types, from
Tom Jones to Puccini and Gilbert
Bécaud. She taught them what was
important in life, and guided her
family through the very real drama
and anxiety of South African politics.
On Chippy’s retirement, they
satisfied a lifelong fascination with
the UK by moving to London, where
they spent the remainder of their life.
Her last few years were blighted by
Alzheimer’s, but even through that
most insidious of diseases she kept
her wonderful sense of humour, her
love of music and her wish to dance.
Maggie lived life to the full right up
to the end, with more than a few
glimmers of the unique blend of
laughter and fun that defined her.
On Maggie’s passing, Vivienne
Mallett, wife of former principal
Anthony Mallett, wrote, “Maggie
and Betty van der Bijl were my
most wonderful supports and kept
my balance right, from the very
beginning of our time at Bishops.
I miss them both now, very much.
Their bubble and humour made
all the rather pedestrian things
we Staff Wives did into sheer fun.”

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