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'I'm glad daddy got to hold his first grandchild, but I'm devastated he'll never see her growing up'

By Deborah McAleese

Published 03/04/2015

Geoffrey holding baby Annie
Geoffrey holding baby Annie

It is Victoria Keys' favourite photograph.

Her smiling father is holding his first grandchild Annie tenderly in his arms and looking down upon her proudly.

"I love this photograph. I think it was taken around October time last year. Daddy just adored Annie," said Victoria as she hugged her daughter close.

"I never really thought that he wouldn't be around to see Annie growing up and all the milestones. He just adored her. There was nobody like Annie. At least he got to know her during her first nine months."

Victoria's father Geoffrey Robb died last week during a freak accident when a tree fell across the road and onto his minibus.

Mr Robb, who was from Portadown, loved his job as a bus driver but after suffering a heart attack in August, he was forced to take more than six months off until he was deemed medically fit to drive again.

He had only returned to work with Eurocoach three weeks before his death.

"Work was everything to daddy. It kept him busy. He just loved to drive and he knew every road. One of his favourite spots was the seaside at Cranfield close to Kilkeel," said Victoria.

"We used to have a caravan up there when we were kids. We would go up there for walks along the beach. Daddy just loved it. He loved jumping in his car and heading off.

"Once he was given the all-clear to drive again, he was just itching to get back to work. We can't take in that this is how he died.

"For all that daddy had been through, we thought if anything it would have been his heart. Not a freak accident with a tree. You never dream of anything like that. It was a week ago today. I can't believe it has been a week."

Victoria was in her house in Hillsborough, Co Down, last Thursday evening with her 19-year-old brother Macauley and their mother when the police called at the door to deliver the devastating news.

"In a way it was good that we were all together," the 32-year-old said.

"I wouldn't have liked Macauley to have been on his own when he found out. It was a horrible knock to get at the door. I'm not sure I will ever get over it.

"Daddy would have been a very jolly man. He loved cracking jokes and he always would see the funny side of things. He was very kind, very generous. He would always have been saying, 'Pet, go and buy yourself this' or, 'If you need anything let me know.'

"I was very much a daddy's girl. Daddy lived at home on his own and I always wanted to make sure he was looking after himself. I would be calling him making sure he had breakfast, was exercising, was taking his medication and telling him to go to bed early. We just had a good, loving relationship.

"It was a big shock last year when daddy had his heart attack. It was just a normal day again, going about your business and you get the phone call. Ever since that I was always concerned about him and wanting to make sure he was looking after himself."

As she looked once more at her favourite photograph, Victoria said she has many cherished memories of her father to take comfort from.

"I have so many lovely memories. But sometimes, for a few moments, you forget and go to pick up the phone to call him and then you remember.

"I really am devastated. But Annie, my daughter, keeps me smiling," she said.

Belfast Telegraph

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