Obituary: 'Remarkable' Rotarian and Finchley Road optometrist

Betty and Nevile Robinson outside the business in Frognal Parade, Finchley Road

Betty and Nevile Robinson outside the business in Frognal Parade - Credit: Robinson family

North London last year lost a long-standing Rotarian and former optometrist who served the community for 40 years.

Nevile Robinson died from a stroke at the age of 87 on April 9 2020, and his wife, Betty died aged 88 on May 5, after contracting Covid-19.

Nevile set up his optometry practice in Frognal Parade, Finchley Road, in 1958 and Betty, whom he married in 1959, worked on reception. On his retirement in 1998, he told the Ham&High he would miss "being able to talk to so many nice people every day". 

Betty and Nevile Robinson

Betty and Nevile Robinson - Credit: Robinson family

The couple leave behind sons Daniel and Paul.  

“My father was a remarkable man,” said Daniel. “He was a large character and his sudden death really took us by surprise.”

Due to the Covid-19 restrictions in place last April, only his two sons and their local rabbi were able to attend his funeral.  

Born in 1933 in South Wales, Nevile trained firstly as a pharmacist but soon changed to optometry, running his practice until his retirement in 1998.

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During that time he treated thousands of patients, including celebrities such as Peter O'Toole and Stephanie Cole.

As a man of science, he was critical of the commercialisation of the industry and often discouraged patients from buying contact lenses if they were not needed.

Optometrist Nevile Robinson

Optometrist Nevile Robinson - Credit: Robinson family

 Nevile was a long-standing member of the Rotary Club, in Hampstead, Hendon and Golders Green.

Daniel said: “He was extremely proud to be a Rotarian. The key phrase 'to give service above self' was something my father truly believed in, and he upheld that in all aspects of his life.”  

During his time at the Rotary, he sponsored four destitute children in India and travelled to clubs across the world.

He was responsible for distributing the “Message in a Bottle” aids to vulnerable householders in Barnet, which would be of great assistance to emergency services. 

Nevile and Betty were for many years on the committee of the City Music Society and were keen followers of string quartet music, in particular the concerts given by the Carducci String Quartet. 

A devoted family man, he looked after Betty in her later years and was a source of inspiration for his two sons.

Nevile was a keen photographer and was incredibly proud of his son Paul’s career as a cameraman.  

Daniel is currently changing career from solicitor to occupational therapist, and said: "It’s the kind of thing he’d be incredibly happy to hear as he came from that kind of background.” 

In 1998 the Ham&High reported Nevile Robinson's retirement after 40 years at his optometry shop in Finchley Road

In 1998 the Ham&High reported Nevile Robinson's retirement after 40 years at his optometry shop in Finchley Road - Credit: Robinson family

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