This month, we've chosen to honor a very popular MX-5 owner and friend of Miata.net who tragically lost his life recently. We were flooded with email messages about what a great guy Rob was - he was loved by those who knew him. Rob was also a winner of the Miata.net 5th Anniversary contest, though he was never to see his prize.
Miata.net posthumously remembers Rob as our Millenium
Miata of the Month.
Dedicated to Robert Ian Beckwith of Leeds, Uk and Proprietor of Donutz, who was tragically killed in a car accident on the 8th November 1999 while driving his beloved Mariner Blue MX-5, from all Robs' friends on the UK MX-5 email list. Rob you were one in a million.
My girlfriend, Fran, and I thought of Rob as our 'little brother', we only knew him for a short time, but came to love him very quickly, he was one of life's good guys, always smiling, enthusiastic and full of life, a kinder, more generous person we will never meet. Rob was also an extrovert, he also read Miata.net regularly, and all his friends know it would mean a lot to him now wherever he is, to look down and see he's finally appeared on one of his favourite websites and achieved the fame he deserves.
Fran (my girlfriend) and I had only had our 91 Mariner blue MX-5 for 3 months when I discovered the Uk MX-5 email list. It was in February when I replied to a guy who lived in Leeds just 40 miles from me, he was in the process of buying an MX-5, it was the same year and colour as mine, and like me Rob had just had a promotion at work allowing him to buy his dream sports car his name was Rob Beckwith.
At this time I didn't realize the impact Rob would have on my life or the rest of the UK MX-5 community. Below is one of the first emails I received from Rob and his fun nature and lust for life even comes out of this email message.
Yes, Yesterday I picked up my little MX-5. A 100 mile drive home through horizontal rain and hail stones as big as a cow (ok a really very very teeney-weeney cow BUT...!!!) . 90 mph with the roof down and the heater on. Excellent!!!! I spent all day yesterday taking people out and had a great time. I had washed it within 4 hours of getting home as well, motorways make your car sooooo dirty it's unbelievable.
So at 21 I own a 2 seater convertible sports car with pop-ups and chrome.
What a day though, my first rear wheel drive car and it rains and then SNOWS! Oh well, if you take it easy it's ok, it just snakes a bit going up hill.
People were smiling and pointing as I sped past them yesterday. So cool! I even went for a cruise around Leeds city centre at 12:15am topless. How cool was that? (read: cold)
After a month and numerous emails later, we arranged for Rob to come over to Hull and meet up. This was the first time I had met anyone through any email list and the first MX-5 owner I'd met, Fran and I were quite excited. We waited for about 5 minutes in a lay-by, when all of a sudden a beautiful mariner blue MX-5 came into view identical to ours and screeched to a halt behind us, it was Rob (and Tailsider, Rob's MX-5) . Immediately we hit it off, and Rob had very generously bought us some presents for our '5, a stick-on number plate and an interior light kit, this generosity was typical of Rob.
Our friendship with Rob grew rapidly after that. We both joined the North East MX-5 club, part of the UK MX-5 club and both went on our first MX-5 run together, a fantastic day I'll never forget, driving over beautiful Teesdale hills and valleys that had been used for the World Rally championships. It was on this run I discovered Rob's fanatical views on top-down motoring. Woe betide any MX-5 owner Rob met that had his roof up, and no it didn't matter if they it was torrential rain either! He would give them all a friendly ticking off, strangers and friends alike. I remember on one run it was raining, Fran and I feeling a bit sorry for ourselves put the hood up like the rest of the convoy of 5's, you can bet it wasn't long before I got a call from Rob on his mobile phone... "Si, what the hell are you doing mate...get your bloody roof down! ;o) "... we did!
A few weeks later Rob emailed me and suggested we set up a North East MX-5 site. At this stage Rob knew bugger all about html or writing webpages. Think that stopped him...no way!
Rob asked me to teach him via email as I'm a web developer, I gave him some addresses of online web tutorials thinking that's the last I'll hear about the subject. But unlike most people I've known in my life, Rob overflowed with enthusiasm and drive and within the week, Rob was emailing me bits of html for me to check over and see how he'd progressed. Within a few weeks Rob emails me and tells me to check out what was the Mk1 Northeast MX-5 site. I was blown away. Many people (especially me) say they're going to do stuff and never get around to it, but that wasn't Robs way, Rob was always a doer, and this drive and lust for life is why Fran and I loved him so much. Rob also helped in setting up the latest mk2 north east website ( http://www.nemx5.free-online.co.uk/nemx5/ )
It was while Rob was visiting us one weekend that he told me he planned on setting up an online MX-5 accessories company, because as Rob so often pointed out, we always get ripped of in the UK for retail prices. I was still a bit dubious, I mean it was one thing to do a website but set up a company?
Rob immediately started quizzing all the solicitors, accountants, web masters he could find on the UK MX-5 list, built his site, (my small contribution, was coming up with the Donutz logo) and Donutz (www.donutz.co.uk) was born. He had sorted out suppliers from the States including Voodoo Products and I.L. Motorsport from Germany and that was just the start. He'd ring/email me all the time, telling me his latest acquisition for the site, and possible products he wanted to sell, his site was unique in the UK, no wonder it had over 1000 hits in just 2 months of opening.
Rob and I used to joke about how 'infamous' we had become in such a short time and we certainly tried our hardest to get noticed by pulling stunts like the 'Billing - Mariner Menace photo-shoot' (incidentally Rob coined the phrase Mariner Menace) at the UK National MX-5 Event held at Billing, UK. This involved Rob and I annoying the thousands of MX-5 owners there, and asking all the Mariner Blue owners to meet up in the central cavalcade area...it worked, we ended up with a beautiful line of Mariner Blue 5's from all over Europe enjoying an unscheduled but unforgettable photo-shoot. For more info and photos check out http://www.nemx5.free-online.co.uk/nemx5/previous_events/billing99/event_billing99_marinerm.html...what a laugh that was...Robs infamy was assured! ;o)
Rob was a regular contributor to the UK MX-5 email list (he was the 3rd highest posting author after just a few months) and became known as friendly guy, always willing to give help and advice, nothing was to much trouble.
However, neither I nor the hundreds of members on the UK list could guess at the tragic loss that was to come. I sat in disbelief as I read of Rob's tragic accident and how he and his friend Richard Moss were killed just a few miles from their homes, returning from a night out.
The day before his accident Rob rang me and told me to look at all the work he done over the weekend to his Donutz site.
'Check out my kits section Sime, do you think there too expensive?'. I looked at the Kits section, which if you haven't seen it, is basically various chrome bits Rob put together (Rob LOVE his chrome!!). Rob had knocked so much money off the retail price he was literally making only 10-15 pounds maximum on up to 5 items! I told him to put his prices up and that as usual it was hardly worth him selling stuff at those prices.. Only a month earlier it came to light on the UK email list that Rob was actually losing £1.50 per sale on his beloved Stick-on Number plates...man we laughed our heads of when we talked about that balls up...;o) as did many on the list.
It is no surprise that since his death a few days ago, Rob has received over 150 messages of sympathy from all his MX-5 family on the UK email list. The majority of these people have never met Rob in person, yet knew him through his emails as he had contacted most of them at some point, all the messages say basically the same thing, that Rob was one of the good guys, friendly, always smiling and enigmatic and he will be dearly missed.
I am still trying to find some sense of Rob's tragic accident... But I know he's up there looking down on us, and you can bet Robs driving 'tails' his 5 with the hood down, rain or shine and trying to pick up some beautiful blonde angel babes!
Cheers mate...we will never forget you.
Will you be next?