Mearns Probus Club

Share this article

Captain Robbie Middleton was the guest speaker for the first meeting in November at the club, introduced by President Eric Bell who was chairing the meeting.

“My Life at Sea” was the title of his talk, and he certainly had many tales to tell.

From an early age he had always had a desire to go to sea, and by 11 years of age his mind was definitely made up.

From school to Robert Gordon’s College where he gained knowledge of the skills required to be successful at sea, then to join a ship from Liverpool to sail worldwide.

At this time, qualifications were gained by periods at sea for up to two years, followed by study and exams at Robert Gordon’s College.

This study and experience lasted more than 10 years then Robbie took charge of his own ship as captain.

In this era, many companies were being bought over and amalgamations led to loss of available smaller craft as the size of the ships also grew.

Getting married to Judy didn’t stop his career as she then accompanied him on his many trips to foreign shores.

When his family of two daughters arrived in the years following, they, too, joined their parents on the ship.

He remarked about this wonderful time when they all sailed together and the great social life, as other members of the crew also had family on board.

For safety, the children had not to leave their quarters unless accompanied by an adult, leading to his young daughter, Clare, asking crew members if they were a “grown-up” and, if so, could they go with them.

By the age of five, Clare had to go to school at home, so this meant Robbie was left to go to sea himself, with his wife and other sibling at home too.

After many years sailing round the world delivering cargoes to all countries, Robbie worked for some time with a cruise liner, which also carried cargo in the form of tomatoes from the Canary Islands to London docks.

Since retiring from his sea-going trips and cruises, Robbie has not been idle and is a respected member of many boards and companies dealing with the oil industry in the North-east.

His life now also sees him travel the world as president of The Nautical Institute, attending meetings in Australia, Hong Kong, the Philippines, America and wherever he is needed.

His elder daughter, Clare, also went to sea and has a full Masters Ticket, which allows her to take full sized cruise liners to sea but is meantime taking time off to raise her own two girls. No doubt they may also find nautical careers, something of which Captain Robbie, as granddad, would be very proud.

After a healthy question and answer session where Robbie ably replied to his audience, Albert Smith called on members to thank him for a wonderful talk and presentation.

n What did you think of this Mearns Probus report? We want to hear your views. Contact us by telephone on (01569) 762859, or email us at

Alternatively you can write to us, or pop in to see us at our office at 12 Ann Street, Stonehaven, AB39 2ER.

If your club or association would like their report published in the Mearns Leader and Kincardineshire Observer, send it in to us and we will do our best to include the report at the next available edition.