Tributes to a ‘wonderful’ former Horsted Keynes headmaster who died aged 91

Bob Sellens
Bob Sellens

The children of a former Horsted Keynes headmaster have paid tribute to their father who ‘was full of imagination to make life wonderful’.

Robert, known as Bob Sellens, died this month aged 91.

His daughter, the Reverend Jane Webb, said: “Bob was full of enthusiasm and projects right to the end.

“He loved poetry, read us stories, taught us about God’s love, and taught us all to write in his beautiful italic script.

“He was full of imagination to make life wonderful.”

St Giles Church in Horsted Keynes was packed to the doors last Friday for the funeral of the much loved headmaster.

Bob taught in West Hoathly before joining Horsted Keynes CofE School where he became headmaster in 1970.

His family said they were ‘grateful to hear from so many people whose lives he had touched especially in school or in the church’.

The service was led by Canon John Twisleton and Bob was buried next to his wife Gladys, in Highbrook, where they lived for 50 years.

Bob married Gladys in 1950 at St. Wilfred’s in Haywards Heath.

A tribute written by his children Jane, Caroline and Ben described their father.

“He always loved Sussex, its countryside and everything about it,” they explained.

In 1942 Bob volunteered for the RAF.

“Training as a navigator took him to South Africa, Egypt and all over Britain and he made a girlfriend in every station,” his children said.

“He cycled everywhere - to school, to church, to the Observer Corps, to amateur dramatics and his two allotments or out with Gladys, with Jane and Caroline on their special seats.

“As a dad Bob was firm but fair, full of wonderful ideas to make the world magical to young children.

“He did head stands on the beach and wrote the Lord’s Prayer on a sixpence, he taught Ben to play cricket in the garden.

“In years to come he loved being a Granddad to Gregory, Becky, Thomas and Louisa and was thrilled to have opportunities to cuddle his great grand children Betty and Annabelle.”

Bob enjoyed art, photography, calligraphy, jewellery making, poetry and gardening after he retired in 1984.

He also collected his life memories for a 350 page book.

His children continued: “Bob was in his late 70s when Gladys was diagnosed with dementia and he cared for her devotedly for six years until her death in 2006.

“As he became more frail, the family were so grateful for friends near at hand to call in: his niece Brenda, Peter and Susan, Molly and Terry, Viona, Bev, Barry and Beth, Ian and Nina, Heather and Derek and so many others. Sadly his health and strength wouldn’t allow him to do all that he had hoped and after a short spell in hospital he died peacefully in his sleep at Maplehurst.”