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Where Life Takes You

“I was born and bred in a mining village, following in the steps of several generations of miners in my family,” says Tom Robson, a retired mining engineer who now rents an apartment at the newly built Herriot Gardens, Sunderland.

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News and community
Posted 21 January 2022
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Retirement living: meet Tom Robson, retired mining engineer, globe-trotter and family man

There are not many roles that Tom hasn’t tackled in the pit. He started as a young lad of 14 and worked his way up, from the coalface to consultancy. Coal has taken Tom and his family around the world. Having qualified as a mining engineer, and sadly losing his first wife, at 49 years of age Tom emigrated to Canada with two of his three children, his eldest daughter stayed in England having been married and with a baby of her own.

This would’ve been daunting for some, but Tom tends to take life in his stride and has always had a sense of adventure. “I moved to Alberta in Canada to manage a mine, and later went on to open and supervise another site in British Colombia. It was hard work but something I enjoyed doing – and I seemed to be good at it,” exclaims Tom, who has also worked across the globe in Russia, South America and Eastern Europe.

Growing up in the North of England in a small mining village, the marks that Tom can plot on the map of his life reach far-beyond his boyhood beliefs. Tom re-married in Canada and sits at the helm of a large extended family; six children, thirteen grandchildren, twenty-two great-grandchildren and one more on the way. He proudly talks of his family and, with such a large brood, is never short of somewhere to visit.

Life at Herriot Gardens is Tom’s next adventure, having made the decision to move back to England during the pandemic last year. At first, Tom stayed with one of his daughters whilst he weighed up his options, “Prior to returning to England, I had arranged to stay with my daughter Lorraine whilst I looked for my new home, which was lovely. We took time to consider and view properties, before stumbling across Herriot Gardens,” Tom casually states.

Tom shows no signs of slowing down, and it was for this reason that renting at Herriot Gardens appealed so much. “I’d looked around a lot obviously, but when it came to these apartments, there was just no competition,” explains Tom, “The only way I can describe it is that it’s like living in a luxury hotel permanently!”

To be interviewed for this article, Tom quite literally had to be called away from the hustle and bustle of the communal hub at Herriot Gardens. He is a regular at most community gatherings and says, “The true beauty is that the community is there, if you want it, but you also can live a fully independent life behind your own door.”

When Tom isn’t gathering for a quiz or watching a matinee performance with his neighbours, after a lunch in town, you’ll often find him on one of the glorious golf courses within 45 minutes of his apartment. He likes to spend time outside and often has a scenic afternoon in one of the local parks too, “We’re spoilt with outdoors spaces. Herriot Gardens is surrounded by listed buildings and with a handful of attractive parks close by, there’s plenty of places to soak up the scenery.”

Looking to the future, Tom has many invites to travel from his widespread loved ones, “I’m currently deciding on whether this Christmas will be spent with family in Jamaica, though I might stay home for the time being!” Either way, it’s certain that Tom will take his plans in his stride.

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