After a long and debilitating illness, Robert “Joe” Urquhart, one of the Valley’s longer standing residents, died peacefully in the Countess Mountbatten Hospice on September 27th September. He leaves a widow, Felicity, three married children and five grandchildren to whom we offer our most heartfelt sympathy.
Christened Robert at birth, he acquired the nickname of “Joe” while at prep school and thereafter it was the name by which he was known by his friends, if not his family
Joe was born in Port of Spain in Trinidad and spent his early years there before travelling to England aged 10 to find that bare feet were not acceptable at his Sussex prep school. He continued his education at the Oratory near Reading where he demonstrated an aptitude for both cricket and rugby and, on two occasions, played for his school at Lords.
On leaving the Oratory he went to the Ecole Superieure at Neuchatel, Switzerland where he graduated in business and law after being examined in French. He joined De Pinna & John Venn, a London firm of notaries as an Articled Clerk in 1965 and qualified as a Scrivener Notary (a lawyer-linguist) five years later having also worked with a leading Firm of notaries and lawyers in Paris.
Thereafter his professional life went from strength to strength. He was made a Freeman and Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Scriveners, and eventually Master from 1983-1984, and Chairman of the Society of Public Notaries of London. He was appointed a Member of the Paris Bar in 1994.
He became one of the leading notaries in the City of London and advised UK based clients on French Law transactions concerning property, investment, tax planning, the Concorde Production Agreement, acquisitions and disposals, company formations and commercial law in French law transactions. He was also in demand as a speaker and lecturer on Anglo-French legal and taxations and a member of the Editorial Board of Notarius International.
Of all the honours and awards bestowed upon him the one with which he was most proud was being awarded the Order of Notarial Merit by the Latin Notariats. To this day he is thought to be the only British subject to have been awarded it.
In 1972 he met, and subsequently married, Felicity. They had three children and came to live in the Itchen Valley in 1979 Their first home was at the bottom of Chilland Lane in Martyr Worthy where they were wonderful hosts to their many friends. They subsequently moved to Little Hayes in Itchen Abbas.
Until his illness curtailed his many interests, he took great pleasure in watching cricket, travelling overseas with his beloved family, trying every new gadget to come on the market, exotic food, Mount Gay Rum and, just occasionally, ice cream. He took a keen interest in naval matters and was instrumental in forming an affiliation between the Scriveners Company and the then brand new Frigate, HMS Beaver in 1984.
He fought his last illness with typical bravery but, in the end, it defeated him. He is not only very much missed by his family but also by his many friends in the Valley.