It was with much sadness that in May 2023, we shared news that Bob Draper, one of BRLSI’s most loved and valued volunteers and the House Manager at BRLSI for many years, died. Bob was the face of BRLSI to countless visitors and members for nearly thirty years. His kindness, warmth, humour, fervent sense of curiosity, and belief that culture was for the many and not the few are values that he has instilled in BRLSI forever. It was for a lifetime of dedication to BRLSI that Bob was awarded the MBE for services to the Institution in the New Year’s Eve Honours list in 2005.

But if there is a time for sorrow there is also a time for joy, and we know that like us, many of you will want to keep celebrating Bob’s achievements and influence over BRLSI for a long time to come. This online celebration of Bob is a way for us to keep cherishing Bob’s memory and is intended to represent just a tiny fraction of the characteristics and qualities that made Bob so special to us all.

Book of Condolence

Bob delighted all at BRLSI when in the summer of 2020 he made a surprise announcement; he had married long-term partner Cindy Beadman. Bob and Cindy had met at BRLSI ‘I think we were chaining our bicycles up outside. Thereafter, we dated on bicycle rides along the canal’, said Cindy. They were married on August 19th at Bath registry office, and shortly after, the couple retired to Seaton in Devon where Bob spent his final days.

On news of Bob’s passing many of you wished to share your special thoughts and memories with Cindy in a book of condolence. Please take a minute to read these recollections and enjoy some wonderful photographs of Bob throughout his years at BRLSI, and afterward.

Bob in Conversation

If we can’t enjoy Bob’s physical presence anymore then we are fortunate enough to be able to enjoy his digital one. Simon Tyler interviewed Bob at the BRLSI back in 2011 and has agree to share some fantastic video snippets with us, interspersed with some insights into Bob’s character from others, it’s a lovely chance to keep hold of both his intelligence and his much-cherished wit.

Simon said, ‘Bob was the first person I knew when I walked into the BRLSI for the first time in the 1990s. His usual greeting was ‘Would you like a cup of tea’, followed or preceded by ‘Have you met so and so? He/She is a . . .’ Bob always wanted people to connect. In many respects Bob WAS the BRLSI, and when he left, it changed forever. This is our way of keeping it the same and we hope you enjoy it.

Bob Recommends

Long before it went digital, Bob Draper wrote BRLSI’s Weekly What’s On newsletter, known then as ‘Bob’s Bulletin’. Alongside his list of regular events and talks, the bulletin was packed with a miscellany of quirky facts and musical recommendations. Here is just a small sample of Bob’s Music recommendations.

Bob’s Love of Music

‘Bob did so many jobs and was multi skilled and always willing to help’, says fellow BRLSI volunteer Paul Thomas.  Here are just a few of the countless ways he is cherished in our memories. 

Portrait Presentation

Bob arrived at Buckingham Palace to receive his MBE in the May of 2005. In celebration, that same month, the BRLSI Management Committee voted unanimously to purchase a portrait of Bob by local artist, Dr Rex Valentine in recognition of Bob’s outstanding service to the institution. The painting remains on display in the ‘Draper Room’ on the first floor of the building to this day.

Here is a video of Rex Valentine’s and Bob’s speeches at a BRLSI celebration, when Rex’s portrait of Bob was presented to the Institution.

Bob’s Bulletin
Many of you might receive our Weekly What’s On, but were you aware that its origins lie with one person? Every Sunday night some serious midnight oil was being burned over the course of many years in order to bring you not only the list of weekly BRLSI events each week, but some musical recommendations and quirky facts about the City of Bath besides. Click further to read a selection of old Bob’s Bulletins written by the great man himself through the years – probably somewhere around the four am mark!
Bob’s Bulletin
Bob Draper Gallery