'In Asda she was "that lass of the telly"' - son's tribute to Denise Robertson

Denise Robertson.
Denise Robertson.

Mark Robertson's touching tribute to his mother:

Margret Denise Mary Thubron. Denise Tomlin, Denise Robertson MBE, Denise Broderick. The nation’s favourite agony aunt, Patron of almost forty charities, deputy lord lieutenant of Durham.

Read more: Coverage from the final farewell to Denise Robertson
In Asda she was “that lass off the tele” and to her second youngest son she was Thatch, short for Thatcher . . . not a term of endearment but perhaps a grudging acknowledgement of her force of will.

That willpower . . . two days before her terminal diagnosis she had gone off to London, alone, to do as she had done many times before, take on the problems of people she considered greater than her own.

The day before she died she demanded, several times, and received, because we knew who was still boss, the current draft of her latest novel to work on. But the nickname Thatcher was fatally flawed because it failed to convey the size of heart.

Imagine having no idea how many people you had helped in the world . . . even if you rounded it up to the nearest million.

When Mum took on her role at ITV it was on strict understanding that they would help every correspondent, not just those who made it to air.

And ITV were good to their word. So fuelled by tea and a desire to forget quite what went on during Lilly Savages Hen Night she was welcomed in to every home in the country and made people’s lives more bearable, easier, happier.

And help flowed to all, from those lost souls on the verge of suicide to the girl whose Husband had run off with the Milk Man taking with him her only decent frock and heels.

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I hesitate to say here but it’s not beyond my conception that when she got to the pearly gates a voice said “I know I’m meant to have the omnipotent thing down pat now . . . but there are a couple of cases up here that are a bit . . . and I was wondering awfuly . . . if you wouldn’t mind . . . we’ve put the kettle on and there’s a nice sofa.

There are also quite a lot of dogs here that seem incredibly keen to see you again. There would be a pause before the reply “O.K but you’ll have to help me with the Bubble appeal in return."

Back on Earth tears have flowed from Rough Sleepers to Royal palaces.

The pain this has caused me and Bryan is a measure of how much we have lost, so I hold on to knowing I have had the country’s greatest problem solver on call 24 hrs a day for my entire life.

She was a mother not to just my brothers, our extended families and myself, but to everyone she ever came into contact with. She managed to give love to half the nation whilst still managing to make me feel more adored than I thought humanly possible.

And to an orphaned and hungry boy she met in Uganda, who is soon to qualify as a Doctor, she was Mammy . . . and that is good enough for me.

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