About Bob Griffin
Bob Griffin finished school at fifteen and became an apprentice toolmaker with an electric motor manufacturer. The pleasure of making useful things led to an enthusiasm for learning and in 1972, he won the “Best Mechanical Engineering Technician” of the year award, for which his employer supported him with ten years of study into mechanical and electrical engineering.
Bob then followed his ambition to go to sea and joined the Blue Star Line as a 6th Engineer Officer. His first ship was a very old and very beautiful Reefer Tramp called the “Townsville Star”. She was crewed by 21 British officers, 43 Chinese crew and carried 12 passengers in first class. His first voyage circumnavigated the world via South Africa, New Zealand, South America and the Mediterranean before returning home to Avonmouth eight months later, with Bob very much the wiser for the experience.
Bob climbed the ranks to Chief Engineer and served on refrigerated liner ships, container ships, ferry’s, passenger cruise ships, subsea salvage ships and even a casino ship based in Cape Town. As a result, there are few coastal countries of the world he has not visited. Among the more unusual voyages was the “Andalucia Star” which set sail for Port Stanley during the Falklands war as part of a military flotilla and arrived just two days after hostilities ceased. Among other essential commodities were four hatches of potatoes for making chips! She provided much welcome showers and hot food for the soldiers who had recaptured the island and were living in tents and shipping containers in freezing temperatures. 25 years at sea provided many of Bobs memorable life experiences.
In 1994, he met his wife Anne and her eight-year-old son Thomas. Tom had Angelman’s Syndrome. Bob and Tom soon became best friends and Bob looked for ways to help him sleep through increasing his exercise. At that time trike’s were considered unsuitable for children like Tom on safety and ability grounds, however Bob invented an entirely new kind of trike called a “Tomcat” which overcame many of the difficulties that were holding children like Tom back. Its main feature – “Carer Control” – became Bobs signature invention, and has become the industry standard for special needs trike manufacturers worldwide, however, Bobs Carer Control™ remains the gold standard by which all others are judged. Tomcat won the Queens award for Innovation in 2013 for the 30 plus innovations that Bob has designed for the disabled community. What kept him going through the tough times were the letters of thanks to Tomcat, many of which are very moving.
The Hurdy Gurdy Man
Along with his passion for engineering and inventing, Bob has always loved to write because through writing, he can be creative with words as he is with engineering. He has recently published his first full-length novel, “The Hurdy Gurdy Man”, which is available on Amazon and is doing very well. One of his favourite quotes from “The Hurdy Gurdy Man” is about a tiny village in Somerset waking to a snowfall.
Selworthy huddled beneath the apron of trees like a bird with its head beneath its wing. Each branch and bough, sighed with the weight of snow that bore it down and many cracked and fell amid a powdery shower, their wooden arms, frail and brittle like the bones of old men.
Fingertips rubbed at frosted glass and eyes squinted through icy smears. Farmers cursed beneath their breath, children shrieked with excitement, old folk watched the falling snowflakes with silent dread, whilst sheep and cattle called to their masters, frightened and forlorn.
Bob is now enjoying working on his second novel about a secret expedition to the most dangerous place on earth.