A former regional evening crime reporter died suddenly while restoring a boat he was planning to take on overseas jaunts.
Former Bristol Post journalist Bob Corfield, whose renovation project included installing an engine on the River Avon-based cabin cruiser on which he was living, died after suffering a fatal stroke. He was 59.
His love of the outdoors, two wheels, sailing and worldwide travel was in stark contrast to a news role which saw him report on some of the nation’s most notorious murders including the Hungerford Massacre.
A switch from press to public relations at Bristol’s NHS Transplant Service saw him dealing with the backlash of footballer George Best’s liver transplant in 2002 – a subject “close to home” for a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.
“Best’s operation was controversial because he was an alcoholic and Bob, who had also had problems with alcohol and was an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous, dealt with the national and international media enquiries,” said Empica public relations agency boss Martin Powell who Bob went to work for in 2006.
He found himself covering major incidents including the 1987 murder of Shirley Banks, whose killer John Cannan was the only police suspect following the disappearance of estate agent Suzy Lamplugh.
Bob’s biggest crime report – the Hungerford Massacre – shocked a nation when unemployed Michael Ryan, armed with two semi-automatic rifles and a handgun, shot and killed 16 people, including his mother, before turning the gun on himself.
For many years Bob, who’d been an Essex cycling champion in his younger days, wrote the motorcycle section of the Bristol newspaper, test driving top-of-the-range bikes. But his real passion was sailing.
He was an active member of Bristol Avon Sailing Club for many years taking part in races and competitions.
After leaving the Evening Post he worked for a short while restoring boats in Bristol Harbour before going into PR.
In 2006 he moved to Empica public relations agency in Long Ashton, as an account manager for many local businesses, writing copy and press releases for firms such as Bakers Dolphin.
He left in 2009 to seek a new life in Australia where he was a sailing instructor for a while before returning to the UK.
“For the last few years he’d been enthusiastically renovating a boat on the River Avon, with the intention of taking it overseas,” added Mr Powell.
Bob, who leaves two children, died on a stretch of the river near Bristol on Sunday, July 27.
His funeral service is at South Bristol Cemetery on Wednesday at 3pm and the family welcome anyone who knew Bob to attend the service or from 4pm at The Angel, Long Ashton.