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Obituary: Col Robin Sadlier, distinguished soldier and sportsman who ran sweet factory


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Varied and active life: Robin Sadlier

Varied and active life: Robin Sadlier

Varied and active life: Robin Sadlier

Colonel Robert Frederick Sadlier - known as Robin - who died on March 27 aged 88 was a long-serving member of the Territorial Army, which included his appointment as the organisation's Honorary Colonel in Northern Ireland.

He was also a commanding officer in the Royal Irish Rangers and was awarded the Order of the British Empire (military).

He led a varied and active life, having also been a trainee RAF pilot and bank official before forging a successful career as a company director.

His time in the TA, which spanned three decades, saw him join the Royal Irish Fusiliers detachment in Armagh as a junior officer before rising to Lieutenant Colonel when he commanded the fifth (volunteer) battalion Royal Irish Rangers 20 years later. He, along with close friend and predecessor as fifth battalion commanding officer, the late John Creaney QC, played a significant role in keeping the battalion functioning in some of the most challenging days of the Troubles during the 1970s. Robin also had a short stint as a commanding officer in the Ulster Defence Regiment before finishing his working life with the Army Cadet Force prior to his retirement in 1997.

Robin remained involved in several regimental associations up until his death and was a well-known member of the Ulster Reform Club.

After the formation of the Royal Irish Rangers in 1968, he served with the fourth battalion North Irish Militia before becoming CO of the fifth battalion Royal Irish Rangers in the mid-1970s. He was awarded an OBE on ending his stint as CO of the fifth battalion in 1976.

Robin was born on March 4, 1932 in Buncrana, Co Donegal. Aged eight, Robin followed older brother Frank by attending Elm Park Preparatory School, in Killylea, Co Armagh, as a boarder.

From there he completed his education at Campbell College in Belfast.

After a period in the bank he joined the RAF as a trainee pilot officer. Robin then became involved in a business agency and subsequently took over a sweet manufacturing firm.

He ran the company Golden Ball, which he later rebranded as MJ Campbell's, until 1983 when the then Donegall Road-based business was sold. He kept the firm afloat throughout the difficult days of the 1970s during which he had to deal with multiple break-ins, fires and one notable robbery when he was held at gunpoint.

Robin married teacher Margaret Campbell, from Cullybackey, in 1962 and they had a son and daughter.

He had been a keen horseman in his youth and as well as riding point-to-point, Robin also raced cars and took part in various TT races and hill climbs.

He played rugby for North of Ireland alongside older brother Frank. Robin turned out for the senior side at North, where he played with legends Jack Kyle and Mike Gibson.

He had been in relatively good health until suffering a stroke at his Dundonald home on March 15 and he died 12 days later.

His wife Margaret predeceased him by eight months, while daughter Lisanne died in 1976 aged seven. He is survived by son Michael and three grandchildren. Older brother Frank also survives him, youngest brother Geoffrey having died in the early 1980s.

Belfast Telegraph