Robert of Arabia

05 March 2014

Photos ©

The Team at Hazchem Network Rugby, were saddened to hear of the recent passing of Robert Dods-Brown, former Managing Director of Dods-Brown Distribution Ltd of Fenstanton, Cambridgeshire, one of the founder members of Hazchem Network.

Hazchem Network wish to pay our respects to ‘Robert of Arabia’ as a Coda to the life of a very decent man, and a passionate Transport Professional.

Our Managing Director, Ali Karim represented Hazchem Network at his funeral held at Fenstanton Church on Friday 28/2.

Robert has always been well known in the transport industry. He was keen to get involved in Hazchem Network back in 2002, calling Ali when he was Chemical Division Operations Director at Interoute, and throwing his hat into the Hazchem ring.

He was a strong supporter of the Network in those days of the start-up, a decade ago. He always stood up for us, believing strongly in the ethos of Hazchem Network.

When Robert went on his annual leave to India; Ali would keep an eye on his Fenstanton Operation, as his lead driver would come into the office. Robert loved India, but being the boss he would worry and fret when he was so far away. He could relax in the comfort of knowing that if any of his team in Fenstanton had any problem, they could call Ali, and he would help.

Robert’s enthusiasm for the Transport Industry and life in general was invigorating. He was a kind man, and his sense of humour remarkable. One felt energised by just being in his company.

Robert set-up up Dods-Brown Transport Ltd from the long-haul trucking he did, "Europe-Middle East-Europe" in late 1970s and early 1980s, trucking chemicals and engineering equipment. Ali and Robert had much in common as transport managers, and they often talked about their respective working experiences in the Middle-East [as Ali also worked as a Chemicals Inspector, Analyst and Surveyor in the Middle East, during the conclusion of the first "Iran vs. Iraq War", in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and along the Straits of Hormuz]. In fact Robert would laugh when Ali told him "I got my Tan on the Shores of Iran". Ali [and other friends] called him ‘Robert of Arabia’, which always made him cackle with laughter. The ability to see humour in any situation is as crucial as being grounded, and not taking ourselves too seriously.

Albert Camus [amongst others] often remarked upon the absurdity of life. We see this axiom regularly, just by glancing at the flat screens that proliferate our homes.

Robert sold his business to Jim Welch, of Welch’s Transport around 5 years ago. He told Ali he had worked hard all his life and wanted to have some time to relax. Within two years he suffered a stroke, but recovered. Ali and Robert would still talk every 3 months, as he was always nagging Ali to visit India, as he loved his annual trips to Goa. He’d always laugh that Ali had never been to India, considering that’s where his family originate from.

Sadly he suffered a second stroke, a much larger one, and the one that killed him. Tragically he was only 64.

In life sometimes we find our backs to the wall. It is lonely, feeling the scratch of brick dust on the back of your neck. Then sometimes we meet brave, fearless people who will stand shoulder to shoulder with you, when adversity knocks on your door. They give you strength, and they make you smile. When you meet such a person, realise how fortunate you are.

Robert Dods-Brown was such a man.

A tribute [with photographs] to Robert Dods-Brown is available from Trucknet >