Tributes paid to 'delightful, funny, handsome' South Shields oil rig worker Robert Mark Robson following death off the coast of Qatar

The family of a South Shields oil rig worker who died following an incident off the coast of Qatar have paid tribute to a “delightful, funny, handsome” son, father and partner.

Robert Robson, 38, also known as Mark or Robbie to friends and family, was “fatally wounded” aboard the Seafox Burj platform earlier this month.

The former St Gregory’s Catholic Primary School and St Wilfrid's RC College pupil was approaching the end of an planned eight-week stint in the Persian Gulf and had been due to return home in time to spend Christmas with his family

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But on Monday, December 12, less than a week before he was scheduled to leave the Middle East, his partner, Kristie Graham was given the news.

Mr Robson with partner Kristie Graham. Inset, Mr Robson with dog Bodhi.Mr Robson with partner Kristie Graham. Inset, Mr Robson with dog Bodhi.
Mr Robson with partner Kristie Graham. Inset, Mr Robson with dog Bodhi.
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"[Sunday, December 11, my birthday] was the last time I spoke to him,” said Kristie, mum to Willow, 10, and Sefa, 17 months, and who had hoped to marry Mr Robson next year.

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"The kids were going wild at my parents’, we had just been out for lunch, so I spoke to him for about 10 minutes on the phone and then he said he would phone when the kids were in bed, which he would often do anyway.

"I didn’t hear from him.

Mr Robson with dog Bodhi.Mr Robson with dog Bodhi.
Mr Robson with dog Bodhi.

"Sometimes the wi-fi could go down on the rig, but this time I was really worried.”

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She added: “I just knew something wasn’t right and then then police came [the following] night.”

After finishing school, Mr Robson, who was also a keen footballer and surfer, started an apprenticeship as a mechanical engineer and worked on projects including construction of The Word, National Centre for the Written Word, in South Shields.

He later decided to move into the off-shore sector, qualifying first as a rope access technician and recently as an ROV (remotely operated vehicle) pilot technician and worked and travelled widely, from as far afield as the North Sea oil and gas fields to Colombia and Borneo, among other places.

Robert Robson with his partner, Kristie GrahamRobert Robson with his partner, Kristie Graham
Robert Robson with his partner, Kristie Graham
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As well as his death on the Seafox Burj, it has also been confirmed a second Briton was also injured and treated in hospital.

A third has been detained by the Qatari authorities investigating the incident.

Since the incident, a GoFundMe appeal started to raise money for his family has collected more than £23,000, something mum Denise Robson said had been a “big comfort” in the days following the news.

“He was so popular, so well-liked,” she said.

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"Everyone who met him said he was a one-off and a lovely lovely lad and that has been evident in the well-wishers from across the globe who knew him and loved him – it makes me very proud.

“That has been a great comfort to us, that people have thought so much of him and to initiate the GoFundMe was so generous and so kind.”

And while Mr Robson’s family admits they are struggling to come to terms with his sudden death, mum Denise thinks "everyone should live their lives the way Mark did”.

"Don’t waste your time,” she added, "if you want to see the world, go and do it.

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"He did everything he wanted to and I’m pleased he did it, he was a pleasure to have as a son.”

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