Morecambe Bay sands guide pays emotional tribute after Cedric Robinson passes away

The official Queen's Guide to the Sands of Morecambe Bay has paid tribute to his predecessor Cedric Robinson, the much-loved man who held the post for more than 50 years, after he passed away aged 88.

By Gayle Rouncivell
Monday, 22nd November 2021, 12:04 pm
Cedric Robinson with Michael Wilson.
Cedric Robinson with Michael Wilson.

Former fisherman Cedric, who led hundreds of thousands of walkers across the shifting sands of the bay and helped raise millions for charity, passed away on Friday - just weeks after losing his devoted wife Olive.

Cedric held the title as the 25th guide from 1963 until 2019, when Michael Wilson was appointed his successor.

Michael and his partner Joanne, on behalf of all the team of marshals at the Guide Over Sands Trust, said on Saturday: "No words can be written to explain just how we all feel.

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In 2013 Cedric won the Ambassador Award at the Visitor newspaper's Sunshine Awards.

"Last night at the grand age of 88 our beloved Cedric Robinson close his eyes for the last time, Cedric is now at peace and is with his wife Olive who he missed so much.

"We ask that the family and friends are given some privacy at this difficult time.

"Back in 2019 Michael took over being the Guide from Cedric Robinson and Michael said 'they are big shoes to fill'; the best memory this year was when Cedric joined us on the naturist walk and when we asked if he was getting out of his tractor he simply replied 'no I have the best view from up here!'

"It was and always will be a honour to be your friend, Cedric had a huge following and we know that this news will make the community shed a tear upon reading this.

Cedric Robinson MBE.

"Cedric joined us this year out on the sand even though he had retired he kept going all he could; now Cedric it is time to rest your sandy feet and keep an eye on us from up there.

"Your team of marshalls old and new thought the world of you Cedric.

"Charlie horse will be looked after along with Katie your cat, don't get up to too much mischief up there, find Olive and be at peace.

"We love you Cedric and thank you for everything and behave yourself.

Cedric Robinson leading the Galoway's Society for the Blind Morecambe Bay walk back in 2014.

"Be at peace and sleep tight."

Tributes have poured in since Cedric's passing.

"Cedric was a truly remarkable man," said his biographer Lindsay Sutton, who wrote his life story "The Sands of Time" in 2019.

"He never really got over losing her. He doted on Olive and he was devastated when she passed away. It broke his heart."

Cedric Robinson passed away on Friday aged 88.

Cedric, who was made an MBE in 1999 for his work in Morecambe Bay, had been in failing health for some time.

He only retired from the historic role of Queen's Guide to the Sands in 2019 at the age of 86. He had held the title, which dates back to 1548, for a record 56 years and was paid the princely sum of £15 a year.

Cedric's unrivalled knowledge of Morecambe Bay kept thousands of charity walkers safe every summer, helping them to avoid treacherous quicksand and dangerous channels.

Every walk took more than three hours and he was still keeping up a good pace at the head of his followers well into his eighties.

He also guided a host of celebrities across the perilous sands including Melvyn Bragg, Bill Bryson, Sir Harry Secombe, Judith Chalmers, Victoria Wood, Sir Ian McKellen, Matthew Kelly, David Bellamy and chef Rick Stein.

He even got a Royal command to accompany Prince Philip on a cross-bay ride on a horse and carriage in 1985.

"The two became good friends after that adventure," said Lindsay, who accompanied Cedric on hundreds of walks across the bay as an assistant.

"He knew every inch of that bay and he lived for it. He couldn't wait to get out there guiding groups of charity fundraisers every two weeks throughout the summer.

"He had been a fisherman on foot, by horse and cart and then by tractor since he was 14 years old, catching shrimps, mussels and flat fish. His dad and grandfather were both fishermen before him. Amazingly Cedric only ever went on a boat once and he said he didn't like it.

The Duke of Edinburgh asked Cedric to act as guide when he crossed the sands of Morecambe Bay from Silverdale to Kent's Bank with a horse and carriage in 1985 - the first time it had been done in more than 130 years.

"He and Olive lived a fairly frugal life - their cottage had no central heating and no double glazing.

"Olive was nine years older than Cedric and over the past few years she suffered from memory problems and he more or less became her full time carer. He always referred to her as 'my beautiful Olive.'

"Over his time as Queen's Guide to the Sands he pioneered fundraising cross-bay walks and took thousands of walkers across the bay from Arnside to Grange-over-Sands.

"He realised the fundraising potential of the bay and it has just grown and grown since then. He is responsible for immense amounts of money, millions, being raised for charities.

"I first went with him more than 30 years ago and I have done it hundreds of times since. Amazingly Cedric had a triple heart bypass in his forties, yet he was as strong as an ox.

"He lived a very healthy life, eating fresh fish and sandfire. He had a horse and beef cattle and hens. He didn't travel - he never went abroad. He once said he took Olive to Scarborough, they had a good time, but he preferred Morecambe.

"When I wrote the book I regarded it as a labour of love. It was a testament to a truly remarkable man - the last of his kind."

Cedric was awarded an Honorary Degree by Lancaster University in 1996.

In 2013 he was given an Honorary Fellowship of the University of Cumbria, and a year later he was awarded the Honorary Freedom of Lancaster.

And in 2013 Cedric also won the Ambassador Award at the Visitor newspaper's Sunshine Awards.

A spokesman for Morecambe Lifeboat said: "We are saddened to hear the news that our friend Cedric Robinson has passed away at the age of 88.

"Cedric dedicated his life to Morecambe Bay guiding over six thousand charity walks and raising an unbelievable amount of money for charity.

"As a station we were honoured that Cedric attended our recent naming ceremony for our inshore lifeboat. We will always remember Cedric for his sense of humour, which never left him."

Steve Wilson, Lifeboat Operations Manager, said “Cedric has been a great supporter of Morecambe RNLI raising many thousands to support us over the years.

"He has also featured Morecambe RNLI in several of his books and attended most of our special occasions, bringing his inimitable sense of humour and his extensive experience of the bay. He will be sadly missed by all the crew.”

"Cedric, reunite with your Olive, pop your feet up and watch over your beloved Morecambe Bay to keep everyone safe.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family at this sad time."

Bay Search & Rescue said: "The Bay has lost its greatest friend and advocate, a man who cared for it, respected it, and educated thousands who he guided across it.

"We offer our condolences to the family and friends of Cedric Robinson MBE.

"Cedric helped BSAR in the late 1990s by finding the team its first base in the old war time fire station at the then Kent’s Bank Hotel, Grange over Sands.

"His passing is a huge loss to the area and all those who knew him, we are honoured to have known him."

Cedric's walks helped raise thousands of pounds for charities every year, among them Lancaster's St John's Hospice, who paid tribute by saying: "Everyone at St John's Hospice sends their love and support to the family of Cedric Robinson.

"Cedric led many walks across the sands, guiding hundreds of our supporters safely each year. He will be sadly missed."

Cedric and Olive leave five children.