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Details taken form Centralian Advocate.
30 Dec 08
A ready smile was Robin's trademark
ONE of Alice Springs' best-loved entertainers, Robin Laidlaw, has died, aged 61.
Robin Laidlaw came to the Territory as a teacher in bush communities in the early 70s and became a well-known second-hand dealer.
But he will be remembered first as a stand-up comedian with a passionate interest in Central Australian issues.
Robin, tall and lanky with a pronounced Scottish brogue, had several incarnations in his comic career.
His genius for making people laugh first became apparent when he was a teacher working in bush schools, endearing him to his students but less so the Education Department.
His other career as a second-hand dealer, running a couple of the town's most colourful shops, began when he was headmaster at Finke trying to source a second-hand tape recorder for a friend.
Robin couldn't find one and took advantage of a gap in the market, quickly establishing a profile as a canny Scot with a skill for repartee.
But friends such as David Oakes knew Robin as a generous man who gave freely of his talents and was kind to people in need.
David teamed up with Robin to create a restaurant and street theatre company called ASPRO (Alice Springs Production).
The duo never hesitated to tackle social issues, including the proposed flood mitigation dam and the rapid development of the town and destruction of its old buildings.
Already larger than life, Robin would sometimes arrive at protests on stilts, giving what friend Mike Gillam described as a "huge dimensional advantage" to the protest movement.
Mr Gillam said: "In the art of protest, Robin was irreplaceable."
Later in the 80s Robin worked with Mahony Kiely entertaining children in Alice Springs and beyond as the Fruit Salad Kids Circus, in which he once again found himself in the role of a teacher.
He pioneered theatre sports and became mainstay of the Alice Springs Desert Patrol, which he formed by donning a special uniform and attaching himself to a portable emu which he rode across Europe, America and Asia, promoting the Territory. His sons Silas and Jethro joined him on patrol.
One of the Desert Patrol's most memorable performances was at the gates of Pine Gap, when Robin's "emu" enlivened a protest by pecking at a line of federal police.
The police had no choice but to frown and bear it.
While in his 50s, Robin outfoxed a field of younger men to win the Alice Springs bachelor of the year Award.
A few years ago Robin developed cancer, but remained irrepressible for much of his long illness, joining choirs and performing to sick children at the Alice Springs Hospital with other volunteer clowns.
During this time he also won medals in the Alice Springs Masters Games and continued to protest.
He was incensed at the destruction of the heritage-listed Rieff building by the NT Labor Government.
Robin had developed a second home in the East Coast seaside town of Byron Bay, and died in hospital in nearby Lismore on Sunday morning.
Robin had three children with his former wife Pam: Silas, Sam and Jethro.
Robin's death was notified to us by his brother Bruce, he wrote;
"I'm sorry to report that my brother Robin died of prostate cancer on Sunday December 27. His family of 2 sons, 1 daughter and 1 grandson were with him when he died. We scattered his ashes into the Pacific Ocean at Byron Bay on December 31."