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Haverhill mourns its business champion Rob

Rob Maidment, right, when he gave the American sail trainings ship Eagle a painting of he inherited from his father ANL-160719-165048001
Rob Maidment, right, when he gave the American sail trainings ship Eagle a painting of he inherited from his father ANL-160719-165048001

Rob Maidment, a driving force behind Haverhill Chamber of Commerce, has died after a short illness, aged 73.

Often nicknamed Rob the Road by chamber colleagues because of his efforts to improve the town’s transport infrastructure, he was also well known as the owner of the Haverhill Car, a 1930’s style roadster he designed and built based on a 1978 Cadillac.

Rob Maidment's Cadillac-based 'Haverhill Car' ANL-151009-132950001
Rob Maidment's Cadillac-based 'Haverhill Car' ANL-151009-132950001

His friend Matthew Darroch-Thompson, chairman of Newmarket Chamber of Commerce, who first met him in 1979, said: “More than anything else, his entire life was based on trying to find the best of people and he was a tremendous motivator.

“He helped found the Haverhill Chamber of Commerce and helped it grow to the organisation it is now.

“He was a great one for getting things done and a great one for getting other people to do things.”

Haverhill Chamber chairman Paul Donno said Rob had a big part in getting things for the town and its businesses.

He added: “He had very valuable input in the Haverhill Masterplan for our businesses and was not afraid to contact key people in many large organisations for the benefit of our town.

“Rob’s passing is a very sad loss to our town and I hope that we can continue with some of his work that he had started, especially the improvements to the A1307

“Our first chamber board meeting on the 13th September will be very different without Rob who always had valuable input and guidance.”

Rob was born in Sussex to an entrepreneurial father, who moved the family to South Africa after the war. Rob was brought up in Durban and met his wife Linda while she was on holiday in the country. They married in 1970.

Mr Darroch-Thompson recalls Rob long had a passion for Cadillacs and at university owned a Cadillac hearse.

His first job was selling encyclopedias in South Africa before returning to England in 1973. Mr Darroch-Thompson added: “He said himself that he was more or less unemployable. He was very strong minded and that didn’t sit well in most corporate structures.”

But he ended up running a cement plant, which then took him to Dubai, returning in 1977 when they bought the then dilapidated Boyton Hall at Little Wratting. Rob did most of the renovation himself.

Mr Darroch-Thompson recalls Rob was then involved with Job Creation Ltd, an early idea to get companies to employ apprentices, and through that came across Courier Displays, which made exhibition stands. Rob’s interest in the company was that it had a new type of hinge which he saw had potential elsewhere and he built the business up.

He and Linda had three children, but a daughter, Tanya, died as a child. They have a daughter Zara and son Edward and two grand children.

There will be a thanksgiving service at the Church of St Peter and St Paul, Kedington, at 2pm on September 5 (family flowers only).

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