Southampton tour guide Steve Roberts has died

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I met Steve Roberts about eight years ago. We both decided to train as tour guides.

On a cold January morning, at the start of our training, Steve stood in front of a group of fellow guides at the Bargate and started talking about the building. It was quite intimidating for Steve because although he knew his local history, he was not used to speaking in public. As soon as he started he hesitated, blocked and lost confidence saying it was not something he could do.

However, Steve was not a quitter as he persevered and it wasn’t long before he found himself in front of large groups of PhD students speaking with great confidence about the history of the city that he loved.

Steve was a true Sotonian born in the city and always remembered his happy days as a student at Swaythling Primary School. On leaving Glen Eyre School, Steve completed an apprenticeship as a fit turner at Husbands in Marchwood and attended Southampton Technical College. Later he had a franchise as a milkman and many of his clients remember him fondly.

When I first met Steve he was working as a taxi driver, but his ambition was to be a historic Southampton tour guide. As a child, his parents would take him for walks in the old town and tell him about his story and he was hooked. Steve qualified as a nationally recognized Green Badge guide and was a founding member of See Southampton Tour Guides. He noticed Genevieve Bailey who appeared on local television to give popular lectures on the history of Southampton. Geneviève and Steve became good friends and she became his mentor.

As Steve’s confidence grew, he gave lectures on local history and wrote articles for the Daily Echo. A local historian said he was one of the best guides she had ever known and enjoyed her well-researched and presented tour.

Steve was also a talented artist producing much admired and detailed pencil drawings of local historic buildings. His father maintains that Steve should have been a draftsman.

Steve was a warm and friendly man without the slightest malice who, having been seriously ill for some time, sadly passed away last month at General Hospital. His funeral is at 12.15pm on February 15 at Wessex Vale Crematorium in Hedge End.

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