Sleaford businessman and charity worker Keven Roberts dies, aged 72

Keven Roberts. EMN-160913-122603001

Keven Roberts. EMN-160913-122603001

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A widely known and respected businessman and charity worker has died aged 72.

Keven Roberts was head of the family business, Roberts Tyres and Sleaford MOT and Service Centre for 30 years, as well as being a long-standing member of the local Rotary Club and Round Table and awarded for setting up Hykeham Sailability.

Daughter-in-law Louise said: “He was a man that gave so much to his local community.

“We are all very sad, as he played such a massive part in everyone’s life on a daily basis.”

Keven was born in Boston and lived in Stickney then Stickford, attending Stickney primary and secondary schools which he left at 15 to become an apprentice blacksmith.

Aged 16 he met his wife-to-be, Barbara, who was on a Caistor school trip to the Lincolnshire Show when he was competing in a blacksmiths competition and they were married in 1964 before setting up home in Horncastle.

By then Keven was working for Tonges, the agricultural engineers in Spilsby, but soon started work as a tyre fitter at the local tyre firm and worked as a part time fireman in Horncastle for 13 years.

They had two children - Mark and Lynne - and have three grandsons, Daniel, Ben and Sam.

Keven was promoted to salesman and in 1979 moved to Sleaford to open a new tyre depot with son Mark becoming assistant manager, but together they decided to start a new family business. Roberts Tyres opened on January 27, 1986, soon followed by Sleaford MOT and Service Centre. Today both businesses still operate largely in the same family way, with Mark dealing with the running of the business and Lynne working within the offices.

His family say: “Keven was always keen to remind anyone who would listen that the key to the businesses’ success was also largely down to its hard working, loyal, polite and courteous staff and support of his family.”

Keven joined Sleaford and District Round Table and in 1981 became President, moving on to the 41 Club, where his tireless commitment for fundraising for good causes began, such as Multiple Sclerosis and Sailability.

His family add: “He was someone who would tell it like it is ‘pc’ or not, and was always ready to help when people he knew came to him when they had a problem.”

His other interests included classic cars, caravanning and family holidays.

He joined The Rotary Club of Sleaford in 1988, becoming President in 2004 and would have been President again in 2017. Due to his love of caravanning he joined The Rotary Fellowship of Caravanners and was awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship Award for his service to Rotary.

In the Rotary Centenary year Keven along with the club president chose to refurbish a catamaran for Rutland Sailability, sparking his interest in sailing for people with disabilities. Ten years ago he was approached to establish a sailing facility for Lincolnshire people with disabilities and he secured the loan of boats and volunteers to enable a few to enjoy a taste of independence and freedom on the water.

His family say: “Keven did all of this because he believed in his charities, he could see the difference they made and he just wanted to help people.”

Keven received prizes and awards including the NKDC Community Champion 2011 (contribution to Sport - Hykeham Sailability) and the Royal Yachting Association Community Award presented by Princess Anne in 2012. She accepted Keven’s invitation to visit Hykeham Sailability in July 2013.

A remembrance service will be held at St Denys’ Church in Sleaford on Friday, September 23 at 2pm after a private cremation.