Goodbye Christopher Robinson
Some of you may already know that we sadly lost Christopher, the joint captain of our little liqueur crew, in March.
After a 10-month battle with cancer, our charming, adventurous, and warm-hearted Christopher Robinson quietly passed away at home, which is where he wanted to be.
We would like to say a huge thank you for all your messages of kindness. Fellow business owners, our walking tribe, family, friends and suppliers have all shown such thoughtfulness, and we have been overwhelmed by everyone's support.
As a little thank you to Christopher himself, we'd like to share a few of our favourite memories.
Taking The Wiltshire Liqueur Company Helm
Christopher and I had been involved with the Wiltshire Liqueur Company since 1993 when its Sloe Gin was bottled under the name of Roxtons Liqueurs. They were part of the Roxton group of companies where Christopher was a founding Director and where he and I met in the early 1990s. When the opportunity arose to buy the liqueur company in 2012, we jumped at the chance and took over at the helm.
Together we rebranded the company, adding several new products and taking our creations online. I would regularly remind Christopher that when he first registered the new name with Companies House, he got the spelling of Liqueur wrong. He always made sure to triple spell check after that.
In those early years, there were just the two of us. We were covering everything from supplies to distribution. As many small business owners know, there are many hats to wear when it's just one or two of you! When we couldn't afford professional photos, Christopher became chief photographer, although his forte was photographing fish and rivers through his enduring passion for fishing.
Before long, we realised we needed help, and Suzi, Julia and Kate came on board to support us with marketing, events and sending out orders. But Christopher carried on with his figure checking brilliance and stock-taking duties.
The Wiltshire Liqueur Roadshow
As the Wiltshire Liqueur Company grew, Christopher's central (and favourite) role was to operate the stands at our annual roadshow. From cabins at the Winchester Christmas market to street takeovers such as the Romsey Food Fest, Christopher loved the buzz.
He was my sense of reason at our events. As I would be racing around, getting stressed trying to set up the stall and make sure everything was in place, Christopher would always lighten the mood. At our first big trade show at Olympia, I was stressing about going over our allotted set up time, especially as we were on the first floor and two lifts were out of order. But I found Christopher standing outside with a box on his head, pleading with the parking attendant to give us more time.
Christopher never missed a chance to get a little cheeky. At a very muddy show, he managed to park in the Chairman's dedicated parking slot to avoid the mud – one reason we never branded our van. We were one of the few who got out without the aid of a tractor. And when we were invited by a supplier to Buckingham Palace, he tried to take plant cuttings from the garden.
But he would never take it too far, with his army training and sense of duty keeping him in check. This did, however, on occasion mean he went a little over the top about health and safety. Julia and I remember him taking great care with step-by-step instructions on using a sharp implement safely. We were too busy giggling, didn't pay enough attention and blood was involved! As we quickly tried to cover up the slip with plasters, Christopher was not fooled.
Christopher loved the countryside and field sports, with fishing his favourite way to spend downtime. My role at Roxtons when we met was the fishing programme in Northern Russia. From 2008 to 2015, we went together every year, including an epic drive from our home in Henley, Wiltshire, to the camp through Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway.
In between sporting expeditions, Christopher shared my love of the Wiltshire countryside. As many small business owners will know, taking time out is a vital part of the day. When our business days involved drowning in packaging tape and invoices, our regular hikes across the hills close to home and with our canine companions would always keep us sane.
Philosophy on Life
Christopher's philosophy on life was to keep a sense of adventure. He said it was good to scare yourself every day. That didn't, however, include letting me get low on fuel. He panicked when the gauge reached a quarter. My favourite game now is to see how far I can go on empty.
Christopher also placed great importance on family. This left an enduring impact on Julia from Wiltshire Liqueurs:
"I began my working life with Christopher at 23, and I still remember at a company meeting him standing in front of everyone saying, "You finish at 5:30. You go home at 5:30. Family are the most important thing in life, and you have to cherish this time to be able to do well at work." This has always stayed with me, and is why I have chosen certain routes in life with 3 children to take care of. "
Farewell: Gone but Never Forgotten
Christopher, or Bubbles as he was known to his friends from his army days (when his curly hair resembled Bubbles from the Pears Soap adverts), was our founder, friend, and inspiration.
As the world opens back up after lockdown and the Wiltshire Liqueur roadshow begins again, it simply won't be the same without Christopher by our side. He will always be a part of The Wiltshire Liqueur crew, and his impact will never be forgotten. Thank you, Christopher.
"Christopher was simply a lovely man. Gentle, kind and funny, our little team won't be the same without him"
At Blenheim Palace before an event