His message was not always popular, particularly amongst policymakers and planners, particularly his view that country people constitute “the most endangered minority in multicultural Britain”. With statistics showing that 84 per cent of the UK’s population now living in towns and cities, he had a point.
As a writer, broadcaster and political agitator, he spent his life campaigning for the preservation of the rural environment. He had no time for those who pontificate from their offices and armchairs; he lived and breathed the lifestyle he championed; milking, shearing and mucking out in the traditional way, on his smallholding in the Cambridgeshire village where he was born.
In 1993 he founded the Countyside Restoration Trust with the artist Gordon Beningfield, and the conservationist Sir Laurens van de Post, a mentor to King Charles, and godfather to Prince William, as a founding patron.
The King became a longstanding supporter and visited Lark Rise Farm. He regularly consulted Robin on environmental matters, and invited him and his wife Lulu, to stay at balmoral.
In 2002 Robin was arrested on suspicion of inciting racial hatred for a speech in Gloucestershire which began with the words: “If you are a black, vegetarian, Muslim, asylum-seeking, one-legged lesbian lorry driver, I want the same rights as you.” He was released without charge, and six years later paid compensation for his wrongful detention.
Robin was a fervent opponent of the European Union, which he blamed for “destroying our agriculture, fisheries, legal system, borders and industries”. He was certainly not wrong about that.
For 30 years he wrote the Country Diary column in The Daily Telegraph. Three times he was sacked over various controversies and twice reinstated due to popular demand from the paper’s readers. However, his dismissal in 2016 – notified by an out-of-office-hours email, was final. He wrote on his blog, “I have been restructured out of the paper by corporate, urban money men.”
For six years Robin presented One Man and His Dog, the BBC series about sheepdog trials. At its peak, the show attracted an audience of eight million, but controversially he was sacked in 1999 for taking part in the Countryside Alliance protest marches.
Robin’s views and the outspokenness with which he expressed them, often led him into trouble. Many of his opinions were politically incorrect and of course he had no time for the “woke” brigade. These qualities along with his passion for the countryside, nature, and the fast-declining traditional British rural way of life, which he loved so deeply, are what endeared him to those of us who knew him, and his many fans. Robin was one of a kind, he will be sorely missed.